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After this, he moved up to seat next to mine and we spent next hour or so configuring his laptop securely, starting with securing his computers local administrator account. At one point during configuration, he made statement that I got real lucky because his local admin account did not have a password. My response to him was, I get lucky quite often.
Who Else Has Your Client List
Just think of possibilities. What do you have to lose if someone is able to just peruse files and data on your laptop? Do you maintain your customer list on your laptop (Do you want this in hands of a competitor)? How about your personal finances (Identity theft ring a bell)? So many people I talk to initially say, "I really don't have anything of great importance on this system". Then they think a little bit and start rattling of things they never really thought about before. All of a sudden, they get concerned.
The fact is, whether it be "Infrastructure Mode", or "Ad-Hoc" wireless Ethernet communications, if not properly configured and secured, can pose a significant risk. There are thousands of articles on Internet about dangers of improperly configured wireless networks, yet number of unsecured networks seems to be getting greater, not less. Strength And Posture Does Reduce Your Risks
Keep in mind that your objective should be to reduce chances that you will become a target for computer compromise. When I was growing up in South Philadelphia, I remember my father telling me that when you walk down street, especially in evening, to walk tall, and project a position of strength and authority. Why, because thugs typically pick out those who look like an easy target. The same thing goes for computer security. Reduce risks of becoming a target buy configuring your system with a strong security policy.
When I perform security assessments, I create a list of potential targets, and potential methods of compromise. I then prioritize that list by which system, with a particular vulnerability, may be easiest to compromise. Those at bottom of list typically never come on my radar screen; best scenario it to keep of radar altogether.
If your are using wireless Ethernet, no matter what configuration, follow a few rules and keep yourself secure against most common types of compromise.
1. Above all, make sure all your user accounts have strong passwords, especially those that have administrative control over your system;
2. Configure your wireless network to use some sort of encryption. I know there is a lot of concern about "crackability" of WEP, but if this is all you have to work with, and then use it. It is still helpful;
3. If possible, use MAC addresses filtering to restrict unwanted systems from attaching to your wireless network;
4. Make sure firmware for your AP's and wireless Ethernet cards are up to date. These updates can be found on your card or AP's support site.
Remember, if you are compromised over your wireless network it can be near impossible to track down where attack came from. Worse yet, think about how many systems become compromised, and no one ever knows it?
Darren Miller is an Information Security Consultant with over sixteen years experience. He has written many technology & security articles, some of which have been published in nationally circulated magazines & periodicals. Darren is a staff writer for www.defendingthenet.com and several other e-zines.