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Wired vs Wireless Network Security

Deciding Between Wired and Wireless
There are a few key considerations to keep in mind when deciding between a wireless network and a traditional wired network. The first is that while they may achieve the same goal, they are not the same at the technical level. Different concerns need to be taken for each, so anyone installing a new network should be sure to do their reading on any specific issues, like cable length for wired networks and materials that might cause interference with wireless networks.

The second concern businesses usually have when deciding on their network option is cost. A small room with just a handful of computers is likely to be more cost effective as a wired network, but if wires need to be installed throughout a building, the cost of a wired network begins to scale upward. Every room can signify more holes needing to be drilled and more expensive wire needing to be ran throughout the skeleton of the building. The choice of a wireless network will eliminate most of these costs of installation.

The next concern is usually performance. Wireless networks are slightly more prone to downtime and unusual interruptions of service. On top of this, wired networks are known for being faster. Wired networks are in fact faster than wireless networks with current technology, but upcoming wireless speeds are set to compete with some of the strongest wired numbers. Wired networks still win the performance game for now.

The final major concern is security. Because of the nature of wireless, it is easier for unwanted users to at least be able to begin attempting to infiltrate the network; however, much research has been poured into wireless security, making a properly secured wireless network as tough to manipulate as a typically protected wired network. Still, a wired network begins at an inherently higher security rate, and the absolute best in security will be wired.
Wireless-Specific Security Measures
Because wireless networks broadcast signals through the air, any device that has a wireless antenna can listen in on the traffic. The security measures the network administrators choose to employ are what will keep just anyone from accessing the data. The standard security disclaimer is that no form of security will be absolutely impenetrable.

Once a network is operational, it is important to ensure that the broadcasting range is not too large. If the coverage expands out into the building’s parking lot, then it becomes easier for rogue users to get onto the network. With the coverage range limited to the building, security personnel should be able to note the users easily.

Second, ensure the network is encrypted and the network password is a complicated and powerful one. Encryption is what prevents anyone who does not have a password from taking a peek at network traffic.

Third is to employ every security measure possible, including: MAC identification and restriction, a hidden SSID, extra encryption, and network monitoring software. The myriad of security tools needing to be installed and maintained is a large reason more companies are bringing on CISOs (Chief Information Security Officers).

There are some extreme options available if the network’s needs include being both a wireless network and an extremely secure one. RF paint is available that prevents signals from going through it, and painting all of the exterior walls in it can keep the wireless signal locked firmly within the building. There are also directed wireless routers and access points that need to be pointed at connected devices. These help minimize the broadcast radius of the signal, and it can be cost effective to have a mixture of these access points and wired connections.

Information security is a serious concern for any person or company using any type of network, but wireless networks do require more care. When installing a new network or when it has been a lengthy time between security updates, any business or company with a wireless network should consult a professional to ensure that the data is as safe and secure as possible.