Thursday, March 10, 2005

Wireless Networks

I have just been spending the last few days working on configuring a wireless network here at work. Wireless networking is becoming ubiquitous, from $60 wireless DSL and Cable modems for home and office use, to "hot spots" at airports and coffee shops, to whole cities offering wireless access to people with wireless-enabled computers.

The main conclusions I have drawn are:

1. To do it wrong is extremely easy. Just plug it in, and it works -- but it is now open to everyone.

2. To do it right is, basically, rocket science.

It is not easy to set up a wireless network correctly. What is "correctly"?

A. It has to be secure. Only people you want to connect to the network should be allowed to connect to the network.

B. It has to be easy to use. The security you select cannot get in the way of the people using the network.

C. It has to cover the area you want covered. If you are in a small home or apartment, this is not an issue. If you have a large home or a business, then all sorts of issues come into play.

The main message or this posting is:

Do not just buy a wireless network router/modem and just plug it in. If you do that, you might as well not have a firewall.

You need to configure it to have some sort of security, at least. Uncle Mark will give you the skinny on how to do that shortly.