Monday, November 14, 2011

A-Town no more and basics on wireless encryption.

Well been a log time between post, I got a new job as a system admin in company in Fort Worth. For those that don't know, a System Administrator is the guy that keeps a computer network working the way it is suppose to (it is nice having a job that I can explain in plain English what I do for a change). It was a big move and took up a lot of my time away from blogs.

Moving to Fort Worth in itself is not bad, aside from the traffic, which where I am at is not bad, except the scheduled traffic jam at the on ramp by where I live.

Now, Wireless Encryption methods. For the average home user, it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of what is available. You want to protect you and your home from unauthorized network users, regardless how harmless their motives may seem.

WEP stands for Wired Equivalent Privacy. It came out around 1999 and is almost useless today. Reason is because the cipher key (the key that is used to hide your data) is rather short and has a very good chance at being reused in a single session (it is suppose to constantly change and not be reused to prevent the cipher from being cracked and then used to encode future packets). In plain English, if some one was looking at your wireless traffic with a program designed to break encryption, it would not take long, especially a busy network. So what good is it? None unless you have a very old wireless card that does not support anything else, in which case I would suggest upgrading to a new adapter.

WPA 2 is the current mainstream encryption method. Based on WPA which used a encryption method known as TKIP (which was also vulnerable in a similar manner as WEP, but not as much). WPA2 uses CCMP which is based on AES (read top of the line encryption algorithm). AES encryption is about as strong as you can get commercially, and is availible for many applications. If there was too much alphabet soup for ya, don't worry, it is. To breack it down, AES uses bunch of complicated math to encrypt your data in such a way that even for a team of combuters it would take a long time to break.

To sum it up, in general WPA2 is as secured as you will get for a home network, just make sure you have a good strong password to your network as well, after all, it does you know good no matter the system, if they know your password is password or abc123 (I have seen this before).

Hope that makes it plain for non-techie folks, if you want more detailed explanations on anything, please ask, or better yet, google it your self, Wikipedia has some good articles and gives some back ground.