IN THIS CHAPTER
Understanding wireless network security
Setting up the security features of an AirPort base station
Using the security features of third-party wireless access points
Configuring your Mac's security settings appropriately for your wireless network
Safely connecting to the Internet via a public Wi-Fi connection
Finding nearby wireless networks and assessing their security
Wireless networks offer convenience and flexibility, but they also introduce new security risks. Whereas it may be difficult and dangerous for an attacker to physically tap into your local wired network, wireless traffic can extend well beyond your home or office. Anyone with the right equipment and know-how can sniff (or monitor) that traffic — easily, anonymously, and undetectably — and in many cases, with only slightly more effort, connect to your network themselves. Regardless of what safeguards you may have in place to protect your wired network, once you go wireless, all bets are off. The danger is especially high for people who live or work in dense urban areas or who use a Wi-Fi–equipped laptop in a public place.
Several methods exist to protect your wireless network. You can't prevent someone else from seeing the data your computer transmits and receives via Wi-Fi, but you can encrypt it so that it's useless to anyone who lacks the necessary password or other credentials. However, some various means of wireless encryption are trivially easy to break, ...