Wireless Net Takes Over Homes

From the BBC News site… "To make the internet even more convenient, many keen users are installing home wireless networks that gives every room access to the web. Part of the reason for this popularity is because setting up these networks is easy.

The latest edition of Microsoft's operating system, Windows XP, works well with these wireless, or so-called wi-fi, networks. Some Apple Mac computers come with wi-fi networks built in and happily share it with other wireless devices. The networks are low power and have a working radius of a few hundred metres, enough for the average family home".

Crisp cans – There is a dazzling array of companies selling wireless cards for PCs and wireless access points or hubs.

Crisp cans make good antennas. The wi-fi hubs act as co-ordination points for all the wireless devices in a home or office and share out net access between them. Competition between the makers of these devices is brutal which should mean lower prices for anyone buying all the pieces to create a home network.

Even Microsoft is producing its own brand versions of wireless hubs. One company has started selling ready-made radio antennas made out of crisp cans to help people stretch the working range of their radio network.

Setting up a wireless network is usually straightforward. Often simply switching them on and installing the configuration software is all it takes. But this convenience does have its disadvantages too.

Exposed homes

Many of the people who have set up home wireless networks are reluctant to tinker with the default settings of their home access point. When setting up a network, many people simply take the devices out of their boxes, plug them in and forget about them.

As a result many are broadcasting their existence over the airwaves to anyone who is interested and are potentially sending out personal information to the same audience.

In the age of identity theft this can be a dangerous thing to do. The last 12 months has seen many surveys revealing that companies using these wireless networks are unknowingly broadcasting sensitive information to outsiders.

Many are turning to companies such as ReefEdge whose software and hardware keeps an eye on what is happening on these wireless networks and keep out intruders.

ReefEdge has also released free software for home users, called Dolphin, which makes it much easier to work out if your home system is secure and to do something about it.

Companies selling broadband access recommend that users install a firewall and keep their anti-virus software up to date.


The BBC Article

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