23 Oct, 2013 No Comments Bobby Wireless Security

In the name of convenience, a number of easy to use features have been added to wireless routers/modems/APs. Unfortunately, some of them can actually weaken your security. Here are three such features, each of which should be completely disabled. None of them are necessary.

Note: The configuration needs to be done in your router/modem/access point (whatever device is doing your wireless). You access the device’s interface by logging into it from your computer. If you need help, try enlisting the help of a friend, or read the manual. Or, do an internet search using the manufacturer name and model.

Universal Plug n Play (UPnP)

This was added to give devices the ability to automatically open ports on your internet connection. The idea was to make configuration easier when you put devices on your network that need a port opened. For instance, Xbox Live needs several ports open on your router/modem to work correctly, but most people don’t know how to do this. UPnP was the solution, but because the whole process is automated, it’s easy for malware or intruders to open their own ports without you knowing. This is very bad.

WiFi Protected Setup (WPS)

Designed to make connecting wireless devices easier, WPS allows you to join your wireless network with the push of a button then entering a very basic 8-digit PIN. In 2011, an easily-exploited vulnerability was found in WPS that makes it possible for hackers to brute force that PIN. Manufacturers can fix this vulnerability by issuing an update to the firmware, but very few people ever update their router’s firmware or even know how. This also makes one wonder what other vulnerabilities lie in wait for the hacker to discover. Disable WPS, then use the traditional wireless key (password) method to connect instead.

Remote Administration

Remote web administration lets you log directly into your internet-facing router/modem from the internet. This is not a good idea. Normally, you can only log into the router from inside your own network, such as sitting at your home computer. But with remote administration enabled, it opens that login screen to the world. If a bad guy were to find it on the internet, he could brute force the login and potentially gain access to your router. He would then have complete access to your internet connection from the outside. Not good.