Wireless networks are getting more and more popular nowadays. And when compared with the wired networks (which are still heavily used), a wireless network is easy to setup (as one does not need to deal with installing wires etc) and is also easy to maintain as well (including troubleshooting).
However, they also have their disadvantages too. For example, unlike with a wired network setup (take a ‘LAN’ without internet access for instance), an intruder does not need to physically connect his/her computer to the network, nor does he/she need to gain access to the building, if he/she is simply within the range of that wireless network, then all that requires is for him/her to turn on the wireless networking device and can start hacking right away.
Therefore (that was just one example), if you are maintaining a wireless network, it is very important that you use a powerful encryption algorithm, as it helps to eliminate a lot of security related issues on a wireless network.
If you have to be extremely cautious, then you should change the encryption ‘key’ (‘paraphrase‘) quite frequently, it should be long, should also contain letters, punctuation, symbols, and numbers too.
You can also, further enhance the security by using a newly introduced tool like the ‘Softperfect’s WiFi Guard’, as it lets you scan your Wi-Fi network and shows you who is currently connected to your network. If the connected devices are known, then they are marked with a Green circle, others will be marked in Red.
On the main window it shows: the IP address, MAC address, ’round-trip time’ or ‘RTT’ (time it took for the communication), the ‘Name’ of the computer and ‘Info’ (below).
Other than the computer that ‘WiFi Guard’ is running on, all others are usually listed in Red. But you can easily select each connected device and manually ‘mark’ it as ‘I know this computer or device’ (can also add a small description), for making it easy to detect intruders.
It supports scanning up to 32 devices simultaneously and you can schedule it to scan your network every 1-60 minutes automatically.
This is a free utility and it runs in Windows (including Windows 8), Mac OS X and also runs in GNU/Linux too!.
The Windows version supports minimizing to the system tray area when closed and starting it when you login to the desktop. The GNU/Linux version does not support those two features, but other functions work seamlessly (tested it on Linux Mint 14).
For the Windows users, you can either install it permanently or can can use the portable edition. The GNU/Linux version is also portable, as long as you have GTK 2.8 or newer installed, once the download finishes, extract the file and double click!.
But please remember that, this is not really a network intrusion detection system and is only a simple tool that lets you see who is connected to your wireless network, though once you have added your known networked computers to its list, it can become a very useful tool.
If interested, please get it from this Softperfect WiFi Guard home page.