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Why Wireless Networks Are More Vulnerable than Wired Networks

by Derek Rogers
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The reason why wireless networks are more vulnerable than wired networks is that because the data is transmitted through the broadcast radio technology that works on the same microwave radio band (2.4 gigahertz) as cordless phones, instead of a dedicated cable.

It is possible to be intercepted by hackers, especially if there is not a firewall installed because the networking transmissions are broadcast indiscriminately. Drive by hackers and casual intruders can pick up the radio signal 20 to 50 meters and as much as 500 meters if there is sensitive equipment. It is estimated that 30 percent of all wireless networks have already had a hacking attempt made, even though it is illegal.

Your wireless network can become contaminated with a virus, if another wireless computer taps into the network and has it, contaminating your server and the other computers on that network.

When wireless networks came out, they were more convenient and often a higher speed access than traditional wired networks. It soon became evident that they were easier to be compromised since multiple users were using the same broadcast signals. If a server is not secure, encrypted and firewall protected, it can cause data loss of confidential information and virus attacks that can make a system vulnerable to crashing.

Many government agencies are no longer using wireless networks because of the security issues. For most other usages, a wireless network is suitable, as long as it is firewall protected properly, but you may want to consider the additional security of a wired network, if you handle sensitive information.

The safest thing is to have an IT or network security audit done to evaluate the multiple computers on your network, whether wireless or wired, for security and firewall needs. Businesses that transmit data, store crucial customer information like credit cards and other confidential information need to be especially aware of the consequences, should the information fall into the wrong hands.

By having an IT security audit done on your system, you can discover any vulnerabilities and protect against them. Typically, they will do audits that involve external penetration tests and internal management tests to uncover any possible threats, intentional or by ignorance of protection on the part of users.

Not only can security be compromised through wireless networks that are not properly secured, but wired networks need to have proper security software and firewalls working on their server to assure protection, on an internal, physical basis.

An IT security audit will evaluate the environment of the server, whether wireless or wired and any weak links in the security including the physical location and access to the server and settings for anti-virus and firewall programs.

Wireless networks have gained in popularity due to the ease of installation, especially in older buildings and the cost is less to install than cabling a wired network. The chances of contamination of data, information loss and virus or hacking by intruders may not be worth the cost savings, due to the vulnerability of wireless systems.

Derek Rogers is a freelance writer who writes for a number of UK businesses. For information on Network Security, he recommends Network 24, a leading provider of UK network security solutions.

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