What is it?
A wireless network is one that uses radio signals rather than direct cable connections to exchange information.
How does it work?
A Closer Look
Wireless communication offers many benefits to its users such as portability and flexibility, increased productivity, and lower installation costs. However there are security issues associated with wireless technology, one of the most significant challenges is that access to your network is not limited to those with a physical connection. Anyone with a wireless card can see the traffic moving across your wireless network unless your network is secured with encryption technology. Many different peripherals can be connected to a wireless network:
Implications for Law Enforcement
Armed with a computer, a wireless network card, an antenna, and software that can be downloaded free of charge from the Internet, a hacker could potentially view the data on your computer and/or use your network to download and/or transmit child sexual abuse images. This process is referred to as wardriving and is used by hackers throughout the world to identify wireless networks that are not secure. As wireless networks operate by emitting radio waves up to distances of 100 yards, it is possible for someone to log onto an unsecured network within a matter of minutes as signals that pass through the air are easier to intercept than those that pass through cables. According to research performed by the WorldWide WarDrive, over 60% of approximately 228,537 access points found throughout the world were insecure (http://www.worldwidewardrive.org/side.html).
In addition to hacking into home networks, Wi-Fi access points, known as hotspots located in cafés, hotels, and airports, are also targeted by hackers as the security of these networks is often non-existent which allows material to be intercepted. A hotspot is a device that is hardwired into the Internet that provides access to roughly 100 computers at one time. With many computers sharing the same network connection, it is not difficult for an individual to identify computers that are not secure and use their Internet connection for illegal purposes.
Another danger associated with wireless networking is that if someone gains access to your system or even “piggybacks” off your Internet connection, you could be held liable for their actions as your Internet Protocol (IP) address would be identified while their IP address would be untraceable. Incidents of this nature have occurred in Canada resulting in various crimes ranging from accessing and distributing child pornography to telecommunications theft.
Securing a Wireless Network
There are several steps you can take to increase the security of your wireless network.
"A hacker can use an insecure wireless network to spy on you, steal files off your hard drive, plant files onto your hard drive, or even steal Internet access” (Posey 2005). Although no wireless network can be completely secure, it is important to take the necessary steps to secure your wireless network as it will reduce the probability that a hacker will compromise your machine as it would be easier for him/her to move on to a computer that has little or no security.
Hacker : A hacker is a person intensely interested in the mysterious workings of any computer operating system. Hackers are programmers who have advanced knowledge of operating systems and programming languages. They may know of holes within systems and the reasons for such holes. Hackers constantly seek further knowledge, freely share what they have discovered, and rarely intentionally damage data.
TCP : Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) enables two hosts to establish a connection and exchange streams of data. TCP guarantees delivery of data and also guarantees that packets will be delivered in the same order in which they were sent.
UDP : User Datagram Protocol (UDP) provides very few error recovery services, offering instead a direct way to send and receive datagrams over an IP network. It is used primarily for broadcasting messages over a network.
Bradley, Tony. (2005). Wireless Network Security for the Home. http://netsecurity.about.com/cs/wireless/a/aa112203_2.htm
Brain, Marshall . (2005). How WiFi Works. http://computer.howstuffworks.com/wireless-network.htm
Cunningham, Lisa. (2004). “Criminals Hijack Wireless Internet Connections.” The i-SAFE Times issue 21. http://www.isafe.org.
Dizikes, Peter. (2005). Wi-Fi Woes. http://www.consumerwebwatch.org/dynamic/privacy-investigation-wireless-networks.cfm
Griffith, Eric. (2004). The Five Deadly Dangers of Unsecured Wireless Networks. http://www.Lucid Link.com/media/pdf_autogen/the_five_deadly_dangers.pdf
Miller, Darren, W. (2005). Road Warrior at Risk: The Dangers of Ad-Hoc Wireless Networking. http://www.circleid.com/article/1077_0_1_0_C/
Posey, Brien. (2005). Wireless Network Security for the Home. http://www.windowsecurity.com/articles/Wireless-Network-Security-Home.html
Shim, Richard. (2003). Canadian Arrest Highlights the Dangers of Wi-Fi. http://insight.zdnet.co.uk/communications/wireless/o,39020430,39118205,00.htm
Hackers vs Crackers
TCP & UDP