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The Impact of Disk Defragmentation
1. In Focus: Tweaking Wi-Fi APs for Better Security
2. Security News and Features
- Recent Security Vulnerabilities
- Update Rollup 1 for Windows 2000 SP4 Re-released
- Critical Bug in Firefox, Mozilla, and Netscape Browser
- Take a Closer Look at EFS
3. Instant Poll
4. Security Toolkit
- Security Matters Blog
5. New and Improved
- Management and Security Appliance
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==== 1. In Focus: Tweaking Wi-Fi APs for Better Security === by Mark Joseph Edwards, News Editor, mark at ntsecurity / net
Security has become even more important due to the spread of wireless
networking. As a result, we've seen several new wireless security
companies spring to life and subsequently grow by leaps and bounds.
These companies make specialized solutions that consist of proprietary
hardware and software that guard wireless networks against a wide range
of potential intrusions.
Even if you have one or more of these specialized tools in place, you
can improve your wireless security, particularly by adjusting the
operation of your Access Points (APs). For example, you can manage AP
transmission output power and shape the pattern and direction of signal
Although I don't know of any APs that ship from the manufacturer with
built-in configuration settings that let you adjust transmission power
levels, they might exist. If so, you could turn down the transmission
power output level to reduce the distance that the signals will
propagate. This helps limit the vicinity in which potential intruders
If your AP doesn't include such a feature, you could possibly install
third-party firmware for your AP that does provide such support.
Several third-party firmware solutions are available for hardware based
on Broadcom chipsets, such as Cisco Systems, Linksys, Buffalo
Technology, ASUS, Motorola, Siemens, U.S. Robotics, and NETGEAR APs.
Last week I downloaded a third-party firmware package, installed it to
an AP, and configured it according to my needs in under 30 minutes.
Like most AP firmware, the third-party solution has an intuitive
interface, so I didn't need to read any detailed documentation to make
it work right.
As a result of installing the third-party firmware, I was able to
configure that AP to reduce transmission output from 20 milliwatts (mW)
to about 3 mW, which is all that I need for that particular office
space. As a result, any would-be intruders would have to be physically
in the office before they could get a usable connection to that
wireless network. The end result is stronger security for only a few
Using third-party firmware offers other benefits. For example, the
firmware I installed supports a custom desktop client that interacts
with the AP. Using that client, I can see all the AP's connections;
view all broadcasting clients on the wireless network, including those
not connected to that AP; measure bandwidth usage; and more.
Other benefits include the ability to run Secure Shell (SSH) server
directly on the AP for remote access and administration. Doing so means
that I don't have to expose a Web interface. I could also establish a
PPTP VPN server, Quality of Service (QoS) and bandwidth management
parameters, and virtual LANs; quickly block peer-to-peer (P2P) clients;
configure IPv6; use a remote syslog server; force the use of Wi-Fi
Protected Access (WPA) and WPA2 authentication; and even configure a
way for guests to easily use the wireless network to surf the Internet
when visiting the office. Third-party firmware also offers many other
features that I don't have room to discuss here.
The bottom line is that third-party firmware is easy to install and
use, doesn't require any specialized skills or knowledge for everyday
use, is incredibly cheap to obtain and administer, and strengthens your
overall wireless security. If you do have advanced skills, you can
easily add on to third-party firmware solutions to extend the
capabilities even further. For example, you could add a mini-Web
server, a controlled access public hotspot interface, Voice over IP
(VoIP) capabilities, Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service
(RADIUS) authentication, and more.
If you're interested in more information about third-party AP firmware,
please send me a quick email message (even an anonymous message is all
right) to express your interest. Use "AP Firmware" as the subject of
your email so that I can quickly locate your message in my inbox. If
there's enough interest, I could write about how to decide which
firmware might be best for your needs, where to find it, how to quickly
and easily get it working for better security in your environment, and
how to extend its functionality even further.
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==== 2. Security News and Features ===
Recent Security Vulnerabilities
If you subscribe to this newsletter, you also receive Security
Alerts, which inform you about recently discovered security
vulnerabilities. You can also find information about these
Update Rollup 1 for Windows 2000 SP4 Re-released
Microsoft didn't release any security bulletins this month as part
of its regular release schedule. Microsoft had previously indicated
that it would release one security bulletin, but the company discovered
problems in the patch and decided not to release it until it meets
quality control standards. However, the company did re-release Update
Rollup 1 for Windows 2000 Service Pack 4 (SP4) to address numerous
Critical Bug in Firefox, Mozilla, and Netscape Browsers
Last week, Tom Ferris reported a buffer overflow vulnerability in
Mozilla Firefox Web browsers. The vulnerability exists due to faulty
processing of URLs and could lead to the execution of remote code.
Netscape and other Mozilla browsers are also affected by the problem
because they share the same code base as Firefox.
Take a Closer Look at EFS
Contrary to popular opinion, Microsoft's Encryption File System
(EFS) is a reliable, easy-to-use, and secure encryption solution, and
it can trump even the network administrator's rights. EFS is great for
protecting confidential files on the network and on often-stolen laptop
computers. In this article, Roger Grimes discusses the basics of EFS,
talks about its purpose and functionality, and discusses basic
administrative tasks and pitfalls.
==== Resources and Events ===
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There's a big difference between the ability to quickly recover lost
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High Risk Internet Access: Are You in Control?
Defending against Internet criminals, spyware and phishing and
addressing the points of risk that Internet-enabled applications expose
your organization to can seem like an epic battle with Medusa. So how
do you take control of these valuable resources? This free Web seminar
will give you the tools you need to help you analyze the impact
Internet-based threats have on your organization and tools to aid you
in the construction of acceptable use policies (AUPs).
==== 3. Instant Poll ===
Results of Previous Poll: Does your company use an encryption product
to protect files and folders on Windows systems?
The voting has closed in this Windows IT Pro Security Hot Topic
nonscientific Instant Poll. Here are the results from the 12 votes.
- 17% Yes, we use Microsoft Windows Encrypting File System (EFS).
- 33% Yes, we use a third-party product.
- 0% We haven't used encryption in the past, but we're considering
- 50% No, we don't see any need to encrypt data.
New Instant Poll: Have you, your company, or someone you know been a
victim of online fraud?
Go to the Security Hot Topic and submit your vote for
- Not sure
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==== 4. Security Toolkit ====
Security Matters Blog: Your Inbox Is Open to the World
by Mark Joseph Edwards, http://list.windowsitpro.com/t?ctl=14280:4FB69
Heard of Mailinator? Get a mailbox at this throw-away service and
anybody can read your inbox. But that's OK. A Mailinator mailbox
address is just to give out to someone from whom you want to receive
one message--someone you suspect might follow up with spam. You get the
desired message, then Mailinator deletes your temporary account.
by John Savill, http://list.windowsitpro.com/t?ctl=1427F:4FB69
Q: How can I use a script to generate a list of all IP addresses on a
Find the answer at
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==== 5. New and Improved === by Renee Munshi, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Editor's note: Share Your Security Discoveries and Get $100
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