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How much do you care about security?

By Shane Jester, Campus Web Administrator

Are you concerned about your privacy? Most people when asked that question will say "of course!", but when it comes to doing something about it, most people take convenience over privacy. Take Portable phones for example. Any time you use a cordless phone in your home, you are increasing the odds that someone can eavesdrop on your conversation. Granted, most people are never exploited in this manner, but it is still a convenience that opens up the possibility. 

Let me give you a more pertinent example of a convenience that is becoming more common place in our lives and will continue to grow in popularity in the near future. I recently installed some wireless networking devices in my home so that I can easily roam with my laptop and still have internet access without cables. With the right hardware, it is extremely easy to set up this system, however, the default settings of these devices implement no security measures. The big problem is that anything you do on that wireless network is very exploitable. Granted, traffic sent over the physical network is not too hard to intercept , but at least you have to have a physical presence on the network to intercept any data. If you choose not to implement wireless security, your next door neighbor can see everything that you are doing by simply installing a wireless card in their computer and scanning until they find what channel you are using. Possibly even more concerning, they can tap into your network and get free internet access using your connection. This could be a frustrating consumption of your bandwidth that may take you a while to even discover. 

The sad thing is, it is not hard to lock down your network with a little time spent configuring your software. You don't even need an extensive background in data communications concepts to implement your security. Most wireless access points and cards come with software and documentation on encrypting your data and filtering your network from unwanted eavesdroppers or bandwidth poachers. It just takes a little extra time and patience, but believe me, the peace of mind is worth the extra time. Unfortunately, the attitude I see in most people is that convenience outweighs prudence. At least until they get "burned" once. My advice: Don't wait until you get burned. Do it right the first time.