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Wireless Network Security

Security and Privacy on the Campus Wireless Network

More and more, people are dependent upon wireless networking, and usage of our wireless network has increased continually.  At UWG, we strive to make our wireless network as secure as possible, for the protection of our clients and of the campus network.  There are a few things our wireless users should be aware of to ensure the security and privacy of information passed across the wireless network.

There are two methods of authenticating and gaining access to the wireless network: the OpenVPN client, and the “client-less” login via a web page.  Both methods provide the same access, however there is a difference between them with regard to privacy of information.

The client-less login is performed via a secure website https://wireless.westga.edu/ (Please note:  to access this website you must use a wireless connection.) This website is secure and encrypted, so that your user name and password are not useful to intercept by snooping the network traffic.  Also, it is important to verify the 'secure website' status (usually indicated by the padlock icon in most browsers) and the address (wireless.westga.edu) when entering your credentials.  This verification is important, because a hacker could establish a wireless network named ACCESSUWG, and fool people into supplying their credentials to a fake login page.  By verifying the security status and name of the website, you gain confidence in the validity of the login page.

Although the client-less login is secure and encrypted, once you proceed beyond this page, none of your wireless communication is encrypted and is therefore vulnerable to interception by other wireless devices.  Unless you are visiting a secure website, or otherwise using a program that provides encryption, the data passing between your device and the campus network could potentially be seen by other people. Thus, the client-less login provides security, but not privacy, and users should be aware of this fact and make certain they do not use the wireless network to pass confidential or sensitive information unless additional encryption is used.

The OpenVPN method of accessing the network does encrypt all data sent over the wireless network. The OpenVPN provides security and privacy over the wireless network. However, you should always be aware that even data passing over the wired network or the Internet is vulnerable to interception, and to ensure privacy and security you should only submit confidential information using methods that are themselves secure.