Dwight Watt - Newspaper Article #16 7/15/2009

Question: What are wireless securities?

There are several wireless security systems you can use to secure your wireless connection from others accessing your signal (using or stealing). The two most common are WEP and WPA.

WEP (Wireless Encryption Protocol) is the less secure one but more widely used. WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) is more secure with longer keys and less used by home users.

You will go in the settings of your wireless router/switch to enable WEP or WPA. In both cases you can choose to generate a key (WEP is 10 hexadecimal (numbers 0-9 and A-F) characters long. WPA uses a key 16 to 126 hexadecimal characters long. The longer the key the harder for someone to guess. Generally wireless routers will generate 4 keys for you. Then to connect your PC or other device to the wireless router you will enter that key as a password type field.

There are ways to make a key easier to remember than the ones generated. You can change the key after generation and using the hexadecimal numbers replace with a sequence you can remember. Anyone trying to break-in your wireless signal or use it still has to guess the key. If it is someone who knows you they may be able to guess it. For instance you could use your phone number (10 digit) but that would be guessable if they know whose wireless device it is. Sorta like for password to get on Windows I have seen studies (and my experience shows also) that over half people use password as their password. Not hard to break. If you are wanting it strong secured then stay with the generated key (and use a long WPA) but the downside is that you will have to probably write it down to put in PC (then shred or otherwise destroy the written key to keep others from getting). For home use, usually doing a replacement with combination you remember will be fine. You can change the security password at anytime if you think it was broken.

Send me your questions about computers to me at the paper or to my e-mail dwight@dwightwatt.com and tell me you read this in the paper. I will pick a question to answer each week.

(c) 2010 by Dwight Watt
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