Wi-Fi — Make it Secure

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Does your church use a wireless network? Many do, and it’s a useful tool for connecting staff members, giving web access to committee members as they meet, and so on. Many of us have it in our homes, too.

This article in the New York Times Technology section has some good tips on wi-fi security. If you have not already, be sure to turn on the security that comes with your wireless router. If your internet provider installs and supports your router, they will most likely do that as a part of the service they are providing, but if your church puts it in yourselves, you will need to turn on the security.

The security technology called WPA2 is the newest one on routers and recommended as the most secure. Your router will come with step-by-step instructions on how to set up the WPA2 password. If you’ve lost the instructions, Google the model and make and you should be able to find online instructions or, if needed, the manufacturer’s customer support contact information.

As the article notes, you will want to use a password that is at least 8 characters long and has upper and lower case letters, some symbols or numbers. Don’t use any identifying information such as the church’s address or name, in fact don’t use any actual words, and, as the article also states, “If need be, write your complicated, impossible-to-remember password down and stash it in a locked drawer or somewhere else secure.” Since you are protecting yourself from people on the outside using the wireless, having the password written down is not too terrible of a security risk.

Like pretty much any technology, wi-fi can be used for good or bad so it’s a good idea to protect your church as much as possible.

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Community Builder

I have mixed feelings about wifi security. Up until about a year ago, my personal wifi was open and I was in good company: security expert Bruce Schneier wrote a short piece on why he also kept his wifi open.

The good news since then is that consumer router technology has progressed to the point where it's possible to run both open and secured networks from the same router. This option, frequently called a "guest" network or a VLAN, lets visitors to your church (e.g., a guest band) hop on easily without having to track down and share passwords. At the same time, the church's computers can remain on the secured, encrypted network, safe from any shennanigans on the public network.

Some consumer routers (e.g, Netgear's excellent WNR3500L) support guest networks out of the box. On others you can install the open source DD-WRT firmware to add guest network capability (though networking expertise is recommended). DD-WRT also has the option of requiring visitors to agree to terms of service before getting online, similar to how many public wifi spots currnently work.

Security and accessibility are frequently at odds, so give some consideration to how you want your wireless network to be used before securing it.

Community Builder

Thanks, Kyle. Good points and excellent information! (And I love the word "shennanigans". :) )

Routers are not very expensive.  So you can have 2 set up, one not publicly broadcasting with security for office network and the other open.  Each should have different IP range for added seperation.

 Slightly off topic, I have found Teamviewer to be very useful around the Church as it is free for non-profits.  Handy for those volunteers who want to help but can't always make it to the office during the week.

Community Builder

Hmm, I might just have to use that Teamviewer info for a blog and resource. Thanks, Sherick! I didn't know it was free for non-profits.

By the development of mobile technology WiFi uses is increasing rapidly day by day. Therefore making secure of our personal or official WiFi source is becomes crucial. Thanks a lot for giving out helpful tips of securing WiFi network. I'll look forward to read more interesting and educative posts.

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