How does a guest wireless network work?

That is an excellent question, I will be happy to assist you with the guest network on the wireless.

We have spent a bunch of time talking about wireless networks and the security related to them. Keeping your home wireless network secure is extremely important. In the old days, before wireless, getting access to an internal network required hard wiring a computer to a networked switch or router to get onto the LAN (local area network). However, now you only need to be near the house to be able to access the wireless network and connect to the LAN. This is why harder password encryption was born until we reached the WPA2 encryption pretty much all home networks use today, which is virtually uncrackable.

A LAN is all the computers and devices connected to the same local network. Usually all the devices connected to one router or one wireless network. computer-lan-network

So what do we do when we invite people into our home and want to allow them access to the available wireless? Do we give out the encrypted password allowing them access to the LAN network and in theory access to all the computers that are also connected to the same wireless network? With the expansion of wireless devices like cell phones and knowledge of wireless technology this is becoming more common. As a good host you do not want your guest to have to use their cellular data while at your home.

This led to the advent of the guest wireless network. This is a separate, second wireless network on the same router that has its own name and password. The idea is that is creates a second LAN and keeps any guests from connecting to the private network and accessing the computers and files on that network. Therefore locking out any potential attacks on private information.

You can leave the network open and not require a password. This is not recommended even for a guest network, even if you assume everyone you allow access to the network is trustworthy. There is a type of hacker attack known as Wardriving where a hacker will drive around with a wireless computer looking for open wireless networks to attack. 09inf05

The wireless name or SSID (Service Set Identifier) can be the same as the private network with something like Guest at the end so that the device can tell the difference between the two. However, the password should be completely different. I know it is hard to remember so many passwords but this is important. This is a password you are going to be giving out to anyone who enters the house. This needs to be a completely different password than one you use for anything else. We do not want the hospitality of allowing people onto your wireless network to come back and hurt you in the future.

All of this can seem odd and over protective when we are talking about allowing people you know to access your network and forcing them to use a second guest network. The thing is we may not always know everyone. Especially if you have a party where people bring guests with them and you do not know who they are. There are programs that can connect to networks and sniff for data in the background without the user having to monitor it. It is better to make it a policy that all guests use the guest network instead of the private network. ew-7438apn_private_guest_networksThe guest network will allow them access to the Internet while blocking them from accessing the computer on the home network. This is a simple solution to a big security concern in the home. Allowing strangers onto the private network is inviting them to access all the stored data on the home computer. I can not stress this enough; a guest network is a great way to allow people access to the internet and protect yourself at the same time.

If you have a technology question you would like answered, please E-mail and I will be happy to look into it for you.


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