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Take Control of Your Wi-Fi Security
Learn how to keep intruders out of your wireless network and protect your sensitive communications!
It's ten o'clock—do you know who's using your wireless network? If you haven't turned on network security, someone could be eavesdropping on your email, plucking your Web and email passwords out of the air, or sending spam through your Internet connection right now! When you're using a wireless network—whether from a Macintosh with AirPort gear, Windows with any Wi-Fi equipment, or any portable handheld device— you're exposed to risk unless you take the necessary steps to protect yourself.
This ebook is old! Unless you're looking for a history lesson, you probably don't want to buy this ebook. See the Blog tab, below, for details. A different ebook, Take Control of Networking & Security in iOS 6 is newer and might be a better choice.
Wireless networking experts Glenn Fleishman and Adam Engst have spent years covering wireless security on Glenn's Wi-Fi Networking News blog and in two editions of The Wireless Networking Starter Kit. Now they've distilled that experience into this essential guide for anyone using wireless networks, whether at home, at work, or on the road. You'll learn how to evaluate your real security risks; the best way to restrict access to your network; how to secure your data in transit with SSL/TLS, SSH, and VPNs; and how to avoid viruses and attacks. The book provides extra advice on how to secure a small-office wireless network, including setting up 802.1X for secure Wi-Fi logins.
"The authors, two guys with enormous geek credibility, take the confusing tangle of Wi-Fi security issues and break it down for you in plain language. The book is a marvel of excellent technical writing for a general audience."
—Barry Campbell on Blogcritics.org
Read this book to learn the answers to questions like:
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About the Author
Glenn Fleishman is a tech journalist based in Seattle, where he lives with his wife and two sons, both of whom are adept at accidentally pressing the power button on his laptop. He’s a contributing editor at TidBITS, responsible for much of their Web infrastructure; a columnist for the Seattle Times; a regular contributor to the Economist's Babbage blog; a senior contributor at Macworld; a regular voice on BoingBoing; and a Jeopardy winner. He appears regularly on public radio programs.
Adam C. Engst is the publisher of TidBITS and of the Take Control ebook series. He has written numerous technical books, including the best-selling Internet Starter Kit series, and many magazine articles - thanks to Contributing Editor positions at MacUser, MacWEEK, and now Macworld. He has been turned into an action figure.
Table of Contents
Read Me First
Welcome to Take Control of Your Wi-Fi Security, version 1.7. This book is devoted to helping you most effectively secure your home and office wireless network under Mac OS X and Windows using common networking hardware. It was written by Glenn Fleishman and Adam Engst, edited by Tonya Engst, and published by TidBITS Publishing Inc.
Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.
—Internet security saying
Networking wasn't supposed to be like this. When computer networks were invented, no one anticipated hundreds of millions of naive users. Nor did they expect crackers, viruses, worms, spam, or spyware. But that's where we've ended up. Most people are clueless about security, and few people devote any time to making their systems secure.
The biggest security risk comes from the fact that computers are all networked these days: to each other and to the Internet. Want a totally secure computer? Make sure it isn't connected to the Internet, or to any other computer, and put it in a locked room with an armed guard checking identification on those who enter. Not very useful, eh?
Wireless networking, because it makes connecting computers so simple, makes proper security even more critical. Before wireless networking, you could rely on a locked door to restrict access to your Ethernet jacks, and thus to your network. But now, transmissions over wireless networks—because they go through locked doors, along with walls, ceilings, floors, and other obstructions—are easily intercepted by consumer-level equipment just like the gear you use to connect your computers and access point.
So anyone within range of your wireless network can connect to it, and, unless you've taken appropriate precautions, wreak all sorts of havoc. And, unfortunately, understanding the reality of wireless security is nowhere near as simple as setting up a wireless network to start.
Our goal in Take Control of Your Wi-Fi Security is to bring clarity to the topic; to help you determine how worried you should be about different security problems; and to give you the knowledge you need to lock down your network, protect your data in transit, and secure your systems against attack.
Before we get started, we want to mention a few important caveats:
We've been using and writing about various forms of networking for more than 40 years combined, and we've both set up and maintained numerous wired and wireless networks over that time. And over those years of networking computers together, we've experienced the seedier side of the industry: attacks on our networks via the Internet, password thefts, wireless snoopers, and more. We've shared our experience in many articles and public presentations, and now we look forward to sharing it with you.
You can read this title in the order shown here, or you can click a link to jump to a topic immediately. That said, if you're new to the topic of security, we encourage you to read Determine Your Security Risk first to get a sense of how concerned you should be about security.
This update includes the following changes:
We created this version to update the ebook in a variety of areas:
The book does explain how to set up WPA2 security, but we don't provide specific instructions for each router, since there are a wide variety of slightly different interfaces. The details we offer should be enough to make your router work, and we do include step-by-step setup directions for Mac OS X, Windows XP, and Windows Vista for configuring WPA2 connections to a router that uses WPA2 encryption.
There are lots of great ways to read our ebooks on these devices. For more details, please read our latest Device Advice.
Feel free to ask us if you have a question about this title!
How could we not publish such kind words? If you'd like to send us your comments (good or bad, though we hope they're all good), just click the Feedback link on the cover of your copy of the ebook. Be sure to let us know if we can publish your comment. Thanks!
November 16, 2012 -- We don't plan to update this ebook. Although we might address the topic again in a fresh way and in a new ebook, this particular ebook has lived a good life but is now moving to the obsolete category. Here's co-author Glenn Fleishman's take on the situation...
Several chapters are aging rapidly:
Determine Your Security Risk: This chapter seems quaint now, as people generally know why to freak out (if not specifically what's at risk). A lot of at-risk things have been switched to default to secure methods, too (Twitter, most email, etc.).
Secure Your Data in Transit: Full of a lot of information that people don't really need any more. Also, the level of detail at which we explain SSH, public key cryptography, and SSL/TLS seems entirely unnecessary now.
Protect Your Systems: Very out of date on NAT (which I no longer consider even a passive protection) and firewalls. Also, it does not cover full-disk encryption, as it wasn't a viable option for Mac until recently.
Small Office Wi-Fi: Isn't bad, but it's got a lot more detail than is needed now. 802.1X, for instance, if it works, it just works, and you don't need to know that.
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