Security+ WAP Performance Based QuestionsIf you’re planning on taking the Security+ exam you can expect to see some Security+ WAP performance based questions. These questions expect you to know how to configure a wireless access point (WAP). Even if you've done it once or twice, it might not be fresh in your mind so it's good to review the topics.
Networks commonly use wireless access points (WAPs) and configuring security with them is an important skill to have. CompTIA stresses this on both the Network+ and Security+ exams. You should be able to configure basics such as:
- Change the SSID
- Enable/disable SSID broadcast
- Enable MAC address filtering
- Configure security such as WPA and WPA2
- Configure WPA/WPA2 Enterprise
Accessing the Administration PageWireless access points have web pages you can use to configure settings. You can access the administration pages by entering the IP address of the access point into the web browser. The IP address of most access points is either 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1.
After entering the IP address, you're prompted to enter the name and password for the administrator account. These also have defaults such as "admin" for the administrator account and "admin" for the password but it is highly recommended to change the defaults.
Change the SSIDThe service set identifier (SSID) is the name of the network. It is a case sensitive string of up 32 characters. Devices come with a default SSID and it's recommended to change the SSID from the default as a best practice.
The following figure shows the basic setting for SSID. On this WAP, you have to select the Wireless main menu and the Basic Wireless Settings submenu. You then enter the desired network name for in the Network Name (SSID) text box. In the figure, I used the SSID of MyHomeWAP but any name with 32 characters can be used.
Enable/Disable SSID BroadcastYou can hide a wireless network from casual users by disabling SSID broadcast and a performance based question might require you to select one of these settings. The following figure shows how this is done on a sample access point. It's important to realize that even if you disable SSID broadcast, attackers can still discover the SSID with a wireless sniffer. In other words, disabling SSID broadcast doesn't provide any real security. You can read more about in the Disable SSID Broadcast or Not? blog.
As an example, the following figure shows a MAC address filter configured on a wireless access point. You can see that it is enabled and configured to "Permit PCs listed below to access the wireless network." The wireless client list includes five MAC addresses. Devices with these MAC addresses will be allowed access to the network, but other devices will be blocked.
You can also configure a MAC address filter to block specific devices. For example, if your neighbor is using your access point to access the Internet, you can block his system using his MAC address. You would select the first setting "Prevent PCs listed below from accessing the wireless network" and enter the MAC address of his system.
Configure Security Such as WPA and WPA2You also need to know how to configure basic security setting such as Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) or Wi-Fi Protected Access version 2 (WPA2). You can typically select the appropriate setting from a drop down box and then enter the appropriate passphrase. The settings entered on the access point must be used on all devices that connect to the access point.
The following figure shows these settings.
Configure WPA/WPA2 EnterpriseBoth WPA and WPA2 operate in either Personal or Enterprise modes. Most home and small business networks use Personal mode using a passphrase or password.
Larger enterprises add additional security to WAPs with WPA Enterprise or WPA2 Enterprise. Enterprise mode provides additional security by adding an authentication server and requiring each user to authenticate through this server. Authentication requires all users to prove their identities and a common way authentication is accomplished is with a username and password. A user claims an identity with a username and proves the identity with a password.
Enterprise mode requires an 802.1x server typically configured as a Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) server, which is configured separately from the access point. The RADIUS server has access to the user’s authentication credentials and can verify when a user has entered authentication information correctly.
The following figure shows the configuration for an access point using WPA2 Enterprise. After selecting WPA2 Enterprise from the drop down box, the selections change. You then need to enter the IP address of the RADIUS server and the shared secret configured on the RADIUS server. The default port for RADIUS is 1812 and you only need to change this if the RADIUS server is using a non-default port.
Other Security+ Resources
- CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-301 Study Guide
- Security+ Audio Files Now Available
- Kindle Version of Security+ Study Guide Now Available
- Security+ Practice Test Questions for Your Mobile Phone