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Encryption

Friday, June 2nd, 2006 by | Filed Under: Computer Terms
 
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Q:
Can you tell me more about encryption in regards to wireless Internet?

A:
When it comes to your wireless network, just know that you will always need encryption. There are no and, ifs or buts about it. It’s necessary!

First of all, what is encryption? It is the process of coding or scrambling information so it can only be read by someone who knows the correct decoding key. Encryption is used a lot in secure Web sites and other data transfer programs. In other words, encryption stops anyone who is not supposed to read certain information from actually having access to it. For example, if you were to enter an unsecure site and a third party saw some of your information, they would be able to read it if you didn’t have encryption enabled. Otherwise, they would be able to see everything. It’s always safer to do things over an encrypted line.

So, in regards to using a WiFi router, it’s best to have your line encrypted. WiFi signals are basically radio waves and they can be picked up by any receiver without you ever knowing it. The receiver doesn’t have to be connected to your router in order to gain access to your system. If you don’t use encryption, all of the data that you transfer over your computer is sent in a plain text format and it can and probably will be read by anyone who is interested.

When it comes to your wireless connection, it’s just simply best to use every form of protection that you can get. Along with having a personal firewall and an antivirus program on your computer, it’s smart to use closed networks, address limitations and of course, encryption.

There are a couple types of encryption: WPA and WPA2 (WiFi Protected Access). There’s also WEP, but WPA is much stronger and it’s newer. With WPA, your encryption key changes with every session, so it keeps your system safer. To learn more about these different types of encryptions and how to get it for your system, read here.

~ Erin

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