Posts tagged WiFi

A router with a padlock symbolizes wireless security.

Wireless Security and the Internet

A router with a padlock symbolizes wireless security.

Your sensitive information is always on the move, and it is important to assess the goals of your wired and wireless security solutions.

Having the right connection to the Internet can be a crucial consideration for your business since both wireless and ethernet connections have advantages and disadvantages. Both of these connection technologies have their own specific levels of security, and both can provide a stable environment for your company. In choosing which one is better to implement for your particular circumstances, you should consider the advantages and disadvantages wired versus wireless security described below, before going one way or the other.

Ethernet Connections

Ethernet connections are characterized by the cables which connect them to switches and routers in your network, and they allow for local area network access by all your employees. One of the advantages provided by ethernet connections is that they are recognizably faster than wireless connections because cables are less prone to any kind of interference.

If yours is a business which routinely deals with high volumes of data transmission, or if that data is deemed to be extremely critical, an Ethernet connection may be the better choice for you. Ethernet is also very reliable, or at least as reliable as all the hardware components in the network, and the Internet provider whom you are associated with.

One of the disadvantages of Ethernet is that it relies on cabling, which must be implemented all throughout your office environment in order to reach and connect every workstation which needs access. Every one of these cables must somehow reach the server room, where the Internet connection is. Needless to say, making these kinds of cabling runs can be fairly expensive, and if there are ever any kind of changes which need to be implemented, there can be another heavy expense in a re-cabling, or adding cables to the existing wiring runs.

Another downside posed by the huge physical presence of cabling is that there’s a possibility that they pose a safety threat to employees, especially when there are any cables situated within high traffic areas, or in locations where cables are not well secured, and away from common pathways.

Wireless Internet Connections

With regards to wireless security, a new set of considerations must be made. When using wireless Internet connections, the switches and routers are used to broadcast data signals, rather than using the cable connections in an Ethernet environment. Any employees needing access to the network must have approved credentials and must have authorized access to the network.

One of the great advantages of wireless connections is that they offer more flexibility than ethernet connections do. Computers in a wireless environment need not be slaved to cables, which means they can literally be taken anywhere in the company building, where the signal can still be sent and received.

Since there’s no physical connection requirement, all your mobile devices can be used to connect to the Internet in locations where a Wi-Fi signal is in effect. This, in turn, generates a great many opportunities for conducting business in the modern business environment. One of the big examples of this is the Internet of things, where literally millions or billions of devices around the globe can all be connected to the Internet without the use of any cabling, so that backend analysis and recommendations can be forwarded to the connected devices for self-improvement.

It might take more upfront time to implement a wireless network, but once it has been set up, it’s much quicker to achieve your business objectives wherever you might happen to be. This means that you can send emails while you’re on the road, rather than needing to get back to the office to access your workstation, connected to the network.

In a factory environment, decisions can be made much more quickly, because mobile access is possible from wherever a device owner happens to be, rather than having to get back to an office and get connected.

One of the downsides to wireless connections is that they are not completely reliable in all settings. They are more subject to background noise and interference, and they can experience interruptions by large buildings or other objects, which interfere with the line of sight.

This means that it may not be a good idea to implement wireless connections when your company routinely transmits large volumes of data, or when it transmits extremely sensitive data to other locations. It should be noted that these kinds of disruptions are not frequent and that they certainly don’t detract from the reliability of wireless connections, but as compared to ethernet connections, they do occur more frequently.

A Wifi icon is shown with a lock and key, symbolizing wireless security.

Wireless security concerns differ from those present in an Ethernet environment, as the signal strength and access potential are not the same.

Wireless Security Versus Wired Ethernet Security

In terms of security for the Internet, wireless connections would have to be considered slightly less secure, even though there are a great many actions which can be implemented which will improve wireless security, and make it more robust against potential cyber-attacks.

There is also a greater possibility of users being exploited when connecting to Wi-Fi networks because they might take their laptops to hotspots in cafés or other public places, where there would be a potential for data hijacking by cyber attackers.

This, of course, could be counteracted by not allowing company laptops outside the building, but that would restrict the productivity of employees who might want to work at home, or of those who need the mobility of being able to work on the go, for instance when visiting clients.

Ethernet is simply the more secure option because data which is transmitted over cables cannot be intercepted or hijacked as easily as it can be in a wireless environment. While Ethernet is not entirely secure, e.g. phishing attacks can still be made against off-guard employees, it must be regarded as the more secure of the two connection options when compared to the factors pertaining to wireless security.

A Wi-Fi symbol with computer binary code in the background, to signify the hackers who exploit insecure networks via key reinstallation attacks.

What You Need to Know About Key Reinstallation Attacks

If you haven’t heard about key reinstallation attacks yet, they’re the most recent form of Wi-Fi hacking. It’s also possible that you actually have heard about them under their media nickname, which is ‘Krack Attacks.’

Regardless of the nomenclature, key reinstallation attacks are attempts to exploit a flaw in the Wi-Fi encryption protocol which permits hackers to hijack all kinds of personal information, including photos, passwords, and account numbers. The first thing to know about key reinstallation attacks is that they’re not specifically targeting any particular hardware, but rather a weakness in the Wi-Fi protocol itself.

This means that all smartphones, mobile devices, routers, and desktop machines are subject to attack, and any or all of your personal data may abruptly come into the possession of someone with criminal intent. Today, we’re here to discuss what you should know about this new threat.

How Key Reinstallation Attacks Work

Researchers have uncovered a flaw in the WPA2 Wi-Fi protocol which allows hackers to replicate a user’s network entirely, and by falsely representing the Media Access Control (MAC) address, which is a device’s physical address, it can actually cause a switch in Wi-Fi channels.

When a bogus network is set up in this way, it can actually intercept signals from any remote device attempting to connect to the original system, causing such attempts to bypass the real network, and instead connect to the rogue.

The way WPA2 encryption is supposed to work, it would require a unique key for any encryption request, but the flaw uncovered in the WPA2 protocol does not always need that specific key, and instead, reuses a previous one. The problem is particularly acute with Linux and Android, because of the way they make use of the WPA2 protocol. In these operating systems, a unique encryption key is not demanded every time an encryption request is made, leaving the system vulnerable to hacking.

In layman’s terms, the Wi-Fi protocol can be exploited when hackers can find a vulnerable network and take advantage of the WPA2 weakness, ultimately directing users to the rogue network for data hijacking.

Little people browsing the internet on their laptops, perched on a laptop. Key reinstallation attacks take advantage of how ubiquitous Wi-Fi is.

Key reinstallation attacks take advantage of the fact that most of our world now runs on Wi-FI so it’s important to take precautions before connecting to an unfamiliar Wi-Fi network or an insecure one.

Researchers Proof of Concept

Previous minor flaws had already been uncovered in the WPA2 protocol, so researchers were already fearful that some even more significant problem might be lurking within the software. The key reinstallation flaw was discovered by those researchers, who then conducted proof of concept experiments to attack a theoretically vulnerable Wi-Fi system. On an Android system, the researchers were successful in intercepting and decrypting all the test victim’s data.

According to these penetration experts, the same kind of ‘success’ could not be achieved on a system setup with HTTPS secure socket layers but would wreak havoc on sites which have been poorly set up and missing HTTPS. While Linux and Android are most severely affected because of how they use WPA2, other operating systems like Windows, MacOS, and OpenBSD would also be compromised but to a lesser degree. How serious is the issue for Android? Experts recommend that owners of Android devices shut off Wi-Fi until known fixes have been applied to close up the weakness in the protocol.

What You Can Do to Avoid Krack Attacks

One of the best things you can do to avoid the possibility of a key reinstallation attack is to look for the ‘https’ at the beginning of any URL for websites which you visit. That ‘https’ is an indicator that the site uses secure protocols, and you would be safe in visiting. You can also simply avoid using Wi-Fi for the time being, while software gurus hurriedly develop a fix for the vulnerability. This may be inconvenient, especially when you’re away from home or the office and might need Wi-Fi, but it’s much safer than having your sensitive data fall into the hands of a criminal.

One of the interesting things about these attacks is that a hacker must be within the physical range of your machine before the attack can be carried out, and while that does serve to shield many users from harm, an actual attacker can’t be identified beforehand so you know if he’s close enough. So naturally, you can’t rely on remaining safe because you aren’t within range of a criminal – after all, what does a criminal look like?

Fortunately, the fix will be relatively easy to develop in this case and should be forthcoming relatively soon. All that’s necessary is a simple change to the firmware so that during the ‘handshake’ between devices, a unique key is requested every single time, rather than sometimes relying on previously used ones which can be exploited. Get in touch with your provider and ask when fixes will be made available, and as soon as those security updates are released, make sure they are applied to all your devices.

 

Should You Buy Google’s New WiFi Router?

An image of a WiFi router's signal strength.

Will you be buying Google’s WiFi router?

Google is looking extend the reach of your modem with their new WiFi router. Chances are, your house could use something like this. You probably have at least one room that’s a total dead zone. And you’ll wind up avoiding it all day or lifting up your laptop awkwardly to get a better connection.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Google’s WiFi router intends to get rid of those pesky dead zones. They want you to get the most out of your modem. Because you deserve to have the exact internet you paid good money for.

So, how well does it perform? Is it better than the other routers currently out there? What about the price? We’re going to discuss all of that out now. Here’s our review of the new Google WiFi router.

Product Review: Google’s WiFi Router

Setting up the router is pretty simple. All you have to do is download the Google WiFi app on your phone. After that, just follow a few easy instructions and you’re connected.

The reach of Google’s router ranges from 500-1500 square feet. The reach depends on which speed you prefer. If you choose the 2.4 GHz speed, it’ll be longer. But if you want the faster 5 GHz option, your reach will not be as far.

For people that live in a larger home or apartment, one router might not be enough. That’s why Google came up with the Network Assist feature for multiple router homes. So, when you’re moving around the house, Network Assist will immediately connect your device to the one with the fastest connection. This is done seamlessly, so you won’t experience a dropped call or failed download when going from room to room.

For one router, the price is at $129. And buying three in a bundle costs $300 dollars. Compared to other routers with an equal reach that the three routers combined give you, it’s a good deal.

Google is looking to make your WiFi reach further with their new router. And no matter the size of your house, it has you covered. At a fair price for its quality, this product would make a good purchase for anyone.

Sync Your PC With Your Windows Phone

Device connectivity has been one of the major advances in wireless and cloud technology. Now you can access the same data, in real-time, from your desktop, laptop, and mobile devices. The question is: How do you do it? Some companies make it easier than others. Google uses their Drive service. Apple provides a Cloud ID. Let’s take a few moments to see how Microsoft allows you to sync your PC with your Windows devices.

Microsoft’s version of Drive/Cloud is called OneDrive. It is a free download on all of your devices, and you get 15GB of storage space without having to purchase an Office 365 account. A personal Office 365 subscription boosts that storage by another 20GB (it costs about $70 a year to get the subscription from Microsoft, but you will find a product key for half that on Amazon). A business Office 365 account adds 50GB of data and allow up to 300 users to have access. For most people, the free service will be more than enough space.

You can also connect your Windows phone to your laptop while on the go in order to have Internet access anywhere. Be aware that you will be using your phone’s data plan, and online computing is more data intensive than mobile online activity, so be sure you have enough data to avoid overages. On your phone, you will need to access the system settings. The Internet Sharing feature will allow you to turn your phone into a hotspot. Make sure to password protect the Internet connection if you do not want everyone else around you to be burning through your data. From there, your laptop will see your phone as an available network. Just log in and surf away.

OneDrive is unfortunately much better for documents and presentations than it is for audio and video files. Microsoft still makes Zune software to manage your multimedia across devices. In fact, if the software is on both your phone and your computer, you do not even need your USB cord. There should be an option to sync your PC or other devices wirelessly.

Give Your Older Printer WiFi Capabilities

Just about every modern printer comes equipped with WiFi. After all, no one wants to have to plug in to print anymore. Plus, what are all of those tablets and smartphones to do with no way to connect to a printer. That has led to the age of WiFi printers. So do you have to upgrade your printer at the home or office if it doesn’t have WiFi capabilities? Not necessarily. ImageTech has released a couple of devices to turn any printer into one that can handle mobile devices.

The devices are named printUSB and printWiFi. PrintUSB is more suitable for the home setting. It only allows one device to be connected to the printer at a time. Print USB isn’t wireless. It’s just a means for connecting mobile devices that wouldn’t normally have a place to plug in a printer. It is basically a USB hub that lets you attach the mobile device and a printer.

The wireless option, which is much better for an office setting, is called printUSB. An app named printView will let you connect mobile devices to a printer using a wireless connection. Of course, this is also good for a person who needs to work a lot on the go. These are portable devices, and you can quickly attach them to any printer, even one that you don’t have the software for. The only real issue is whether or not someone minds if you reach behind their printer to plug in your device.

We’re talking mere inches for each of these devices that will give your older printer WiFi capabilities, so there is no problem slipping them into the slimmest of laptop cases. Of course, if your home or office printer is old enough to not have a wireless setting, it’s probably time to upgrade anyway, but you can’t expect everyone on the planet to keep up-to-date. PrintUSB and printWiFi may really save you when you need to print something somewhere that has barely made it into the 21st century.

Electricity Free Smart Devices

Electricity Free Smart Devices: It May Be Sooner Than We Think

Engineers are working on a way to use radio frequencies instead of electricity to power wireless connectivity. The implications of electricity free smart devices are many:

• Battery free smart devices

• Energy conservation

• Easy to use/wear monitoring devices

A whole new world may not be that far away. Cheap power and ease of connectivity seem to be the only things that have kept various smart devices from becoming mainstream. After all, how many devices can we charge every night? It can be tedious but it is worse if we forget. Furthermore, how many locations just don’t have a power source nearby when we need to recharge one of these devices?

The elegance of charging by radio frequencies lies in how engineers are intending to provide the power to these battery-free devices. The plan is to make use of a resource that already exists and is ubiquitous. Various radio frequencies, wireless signals, and television signals are everywhere. The idea is to harness this power, and provide this to the battery-free devices.

The main issue is that these signals don’t provide enough power on their own. They only give off about a third of the power that is needed by many wearable smart devices and other Wi-Fi devices. How do they intend to overcome this problem? Currently, the answer is to use antennas to boost the signal. The antennas are small enough to fit inside a clothing tag, are lightweight, and don’t require charging or replacing like a battery.

The idea has been tested and the battery-free device was able to transmit data (albeit slowly) for several feet. The next step is to increase speeds and transmission ranges. Imagine being able to read email without having to pick up your phone because one of your electricity free smart devices, for example a smart watch, transfers the email automatically. Imagine having the stats from your morning run waiting in a spreadsheet when you get home, along with all the other runs from this month. These are just a couple of small examples of what battery free Wi-Fi could mean.

Smartphone Hotspots From Any Platform

Smartphone Hotspots From Any Platform: In Case of Emergency

When an Internet connection goes down we might need to depend on our smartphones to connect. Being able to turn that mobile connection into a hotspot is very advantageous. In order to benefit from that process, first you need to learn how to do it. Here is how you can make a smartphone hotspot from any platform.

In order to create a hotspot from your android phone, you may need to check with your service provider. This is especially true if you live with in the United States. However, there are some apps that let you create a hotspot without having the right type of plan from your carrier. Please keep in mind, however, that doing this might violate the terms of your contract with your phone provider.

After you have resolved this question go to the settings menu on your android. While menu settings may be different on each phone, generally the place to go is the wireless settings section. Find the button that allows you more options, then, look for different options for tethering. You will also find how to encrypt your hotspot. This is recommended, especially if you are in an unsafe public area. Later, you can change the network ID and password to something that will be easy for you to recall.

To create a hotspot from an iOS device, first select settings and then select cellular. Switch on ‘Personal Hotspot.’ If you are living in the United States, you will definitely need a plan that allows tethering. If you jailbreak your phone, not recommended, there are options for bypassing the tethering plan.

To make a hotspot on a Windows phone go to the settings page. Once there go to the sharing option. Turn the ability to share on, then change the login information to something you can easily recall.

Once you have the hotspot turned on from your mobile device, it is very easy to connect a tablet or a laptop. Simply open up the Wi-Fi connection and connect.
No matter what device you use, the first thing is to check with your provider to understand your options. You certainly do not want to get hit with unexpected fees. How well the hotspot works can depend on how good your mobile connection is. This will also take a toll on your data plan.

You can make a smartphone hotspot from any platform. This may not be a complete replacement for real Wi-Fi, but it will work in a pinch.

Wireless Network Security

Wireless Network Security Woes Continue

There are different ways to make sure that a wireless network is safe. One method, the wireless equivalent privacy, or WEP, is now considered not as safe as it once were. New research is showing that hard-to-crack wireless security measures, such as using two Wi-Fi protected access, or WPAs, can now be easily broken into. Experts are now encouraging programmers to focus on removing weaknesses from wireless network security systems to prevent further network break-ins.

Wireless internet has made our lives easy in a lot of ways. The convenience of having your phone, computer, TV, and tablet all connected is unmatched. However, with fluid technology comes great risk: It would not be too difficult for someone to hack into the signal that is going between the devices. Most people are willing to take the risk because connecting wirelessly is way easier than having to connect individually using a cable connection.

But, there’s hope. Wireless network security can be achieved if the network setup is done correctly. A system that uses WPA2 can be secure. Depending on the device, you can choose to use temporal key integrity protocol (TKIP) or counter mode cipher block chaining message authentication code protocol (counter mode CBC-MAC protocol or simply CCMP) encryption options to significantly increase security.

Studies have shown a WPA2 password can be broken into, but the longer the password, the harder it will be to break into. On the other hand, if a hacker has what he needs, the deauthentication part of the wireless is more vulnerable. Routers that use WPA2 every so often have to reauthenticate devices. Each time that this happens a new key is used. Researchers claim that this process leaves a door open temporarily, but that window of time might be all the hacker needs to break in. Even if you keep access limited to devices that have a certain identification, the media access control on these devices is still vulnerable.

While research continues crack down on wireless network security issues, Wi-Fi network owners should use the safest security available to them with the most complicated password.

Your Android™ Device and Maximizing Its Battery Life

Maximizing Your Android Device’s Battery Life

Do you leave your Android™ phone or tablet on at all times? You probably find yourself having to charge it every day. Sure, we’re making better batteries all the time, but we’re also designing new apps and more powerful devices. The result is that battery life still remains relatively similar to previous devices. Short of buying a spare, how does one eke out a little extra battery life from your phone or tablet?

Some apps waste battery life. To find out which ones take up most juice, check your settings and look at battery usage. From this menu option you can select various features and apps and choose to shut them off or at least change their specs. Stopping apps from running can be rough on your device, so it may mean more resets if you resort to closing them. The better option is to simply uninstall apps that you don’t need or use.

You’ll probably notice that your display is consuming more power than anything else. That makes your brightness setting the number one determining factor in how long your battery lasts. Turning down the brightness too far can result in eyestrain, though, so try to find a happy medium.

Another thing to consider is your device’s wallpaper. Using animated wallpapers drains the battery because they’re constantly running. A static wallpaper is much less intensive for the system. Also, the amount of time that the system waits to sleep can be tweaked. Don’t set it too short lest it hibernates while you’re still using your phone or tablet, but don’t leave it active too long, either, as this wastes battery life as well.

Bluetooth™ or WiFi™ should both be switched off when not in use, as both drain the battery even when you don’t use them. The same is true about location-based services. Anything that continually tries to connect to a satellite or other device is going to use up energy.

As a last resort, you may want to download an app that helps conserve battery life. Look for one with good reviews.

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