Part of securing a wireless network is disabling the SSID broadcast, unless you want people like guests to be able to easily find and connect to your wireless network. But don’t get a false sense of security. Disabling the broadcast isn’t enough to keep people from discovering the presence and even the SSID that you’ve hidden. People sniffing around for hidden networks can use an app like inSSIDer to request a beacon packet. Any 802.11 access point that receives such a request, according to the 802.11 standard, must respond with a beacon packet that contains the SSID of the network. So disabling the SSID broadcast sweeps your network’s presence under the rug, but won’t hide it from anyone who knows how to look.
There are many legitimate uses for a tool like inSSIDer. An IT technician could use it to monitor their own environment for rogue access points and sources of interference. Plus if you want to know how well your WAP covers different areas of the building, the extra information is much more useful than “I have two bars,” or “I have three bars”. With this hard data in hand you could position an access point to best effect, configuring it for the best channel to avoid interference in your environment, and even potentially reduce the transmitting power, so that you don’t over broadcast into nearby areas.
In the CompTIA Security+ classes I teach I have been using courseware from Axzo Press. There are a lot of things I like about it, but one thing missing is an appendix mapping the course content to CompTIA’s Security+ objectives. So if a student takes a practice test that informs him to study, for example Domain 3.6, the student has to scour the index to find all pertinent course topics that cover that domain. Complicating matters, the index lacks many terms found in the objectives, leaving the student wondering where to turn for information.
However Axzo has helpfully put a table at the beginning of each topic listing which points from the Security+ objectives are covered in the following pages. I’ve compiled that information into an Excel spreadsheet in the .xlsx filetype, and formatted it as a table so it is easy to sort & filter. Students can download the spreadsheet & use it as a study aid.
Linksys, a manufacturer of wireless routers, provides a site where you can experiment freely inside an environment that simulates what you would see when actually configuring one of their products. Select a product from the list, then go into a folder that holds a specific version of the firmware for that product, and you can play around in order to get a feel for the interface.
I post this because the simuations are a useful tool for those who have never set up a wireless router to get something close to hands-on experience. You can really get the sense for what it’s like by choosing an emulator from their list, logging in, and exploring the menus and various options.