Two recent

events have conspired and inspired me to comment on the current state of home

network security, at least in the Louisville, KY suburbs where I was born,

raised and still reside.


The first

event was the installation of a wireless network in my own home. We have had a

home network for years (yes, I am a computer geek) using twisted-pair Ethernet

cables strung between rooms under carpets, in floorboards, and between walls.

The recent addition of a laptop to the growing family of gadgets and PCs at

home was the last straw – no more wires. Setting up a wireless network at home

is deceptively easy – plug in the wireless router and turn it on and BINGO! –

you are surfing the Web. Of course, anyone within range could surf the Web

through your router with you.


Being a

good little paranoid computer geek, I immediately went through the process of locking

down my new wireless network: No broadcasting of the SSID, specifying

approved MAC addresses, implementing the 128-bit WEP encryption protocol, etc.

I know this setup is not foolproof, but it will adequately protect me from all

but the most determined intruders.



this modest level of security is not the norm; at least it appears that way

when I can detect so many unsecured wireless networks in my area. This leads me

to the second event – publishing a chapter from The

Symantec Guide to Home Internet Security. This book lays out the ins and

outs of home internet security in plain English. But the principles it lays out

seem to be falling on deaf ears.



a little background research for the download on the FTC Web site

I saw the grim statistics that show increasing Internet related fraud, identity

theft, and other criminal activities. This leads me to wonder if the majority

of wireless routers put into service on home networks are just turned on in the

default mode. As IT professionals, I predict that the vast majority of the

TechRepublic community has not made this mistake, but what about your

neighbors? Do you detect many open wireless networks in your area? As members

of the larger Internet community, shouldn’t we be concerned about this?