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8/27/2009
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Is Your Wi-Fi Network Open to Intrusion?

Security has been an ongoing concern among wireless LANs users since their emergence in the middle 1990s. While vendors have worked diligently to close up any holes, new ones seem to emerge on a regular period, and one is now coming to light that could impact many small and medium businesses.

Security has been an ongoing concern among wireless LANs users since their emergence in the middle 1990s. While vendors have worked diligently to close up any holes, new ones seem to emerge on a regular period, and one is now coming to light that could impact many small and medium businesses.Almost as soon as they began shipping, Wi-Fi connections were deemed insecure. Initially, the underlying security checks and encryption algorithms were simple and easy to break. The wireless LAN industry has developed a variety of different security approaches -- WEP, Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and WPA 2  that have had varying levels of success. Recently, Japanese computer scientists developed a way to break WPA security in as little as one minute, which means companies wireless connections could be open to hackers.

On the plus side, the attacks do not work with any WPA 2 devices using the WPA the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithm. Such products started shipping in the summer of 2006, so newer WLAN access points, switches, and routers should be safe. However, businesses need to check all of their Wi-Fi devices, identify any WPA systems, and either upgrade them to WPA 2 or dump them. Once that process is complete, their wireless LANs should be safe  at least until the next Wi-Fi security hole is identified.

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