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Queen's University
 

Help and Support

Wireless Security at Queen's University

 

from "The Gazette," 14 January 2008


As everyone's awareness increases about the importance of security in computer systems, it's important to remember that secure activities and processes apply in many different parts of your computing work. Each positive step you take adds value to the security of your data.

 

One of the important parts of securing data is keeping in mind how that data is transferred over the network (the Queen's network). Wireless is one way to connect to the Queen's network. Wireless can be vulnerable because your data is transmitted in clear text and those nearby can pick up the signal going to and from your computer and gain access to confidential information such as usernames, passwords, or the contents of your files. Protecting that flow of information is best done with encryption.

Encryption is a method of scrambling data in such a way that will render it unidentifiable to anyone who might intercept it and try to view it. The wireless industry has evolved through some initial encryption methods that turned out to have some weaknesses (WEP and WPA). The current standard, labeled WPA2, is viewed as a "strong" method of protection. Strong means it is viewed as impractical (if not impossible) to compromise or crack.

 

The new secure wireless network at Queen's University offers this level of encryption. When selecting the wireless network to which you wish to connect choose the one labeled "QueensuSecure_WPA2". You will need to configure your computer to authenticate your NetID and password, plus choose the encrypted network as your first preference. Once you've done that, you can say goodbye to the wireless logon screen with the photo of Grant Hall. Logging onto the network will be easier and your wireless transmissions will be secure.

 

Newer computers are equipped to run this type of secure encryption over wireless. If you have an older machine that can't make use of WPA2, a plug-in wireless card that will support WPA2 is available through the Campus Computer Sales and Service.

 

The existing unencrypted or "open" wireless network "queensu" is still available. Some applications and websites assume that the network is unencrypted; therefore they do their own encryption without relying on the network. For example, if you are connected to a secure web page ("https://"… where the 's' means secure) the transmission of that page will be encrypted.

 

We recommend that you make the secure wireless network at Queen's University your first choice.


For additional information on the wireless network visit:
http://www.queensu.ca/networks/wireless.html


For information on configuring your computer to connect to the secure wireless network, visit:
http://www.queensu.ca/networks/wireless/tutorials.html


Although network security is an important part of keeping your information secure, be aware that other security measures should also be taken. For instance, performing regular updates on your operating system and applications; protecting and creating good passwords; using a personal firewall; etc.


By: Jack Henderson,
Manager, Campus Telecommunications and Networks
Information Technology Services


Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6 613.533.2000