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Ask Max: Getting my Macs wireless and secure

Asked on 09/20/2006:

I'm one of those lucky people who works entirely from home. Unfortunately my employer requires us to all use Windows PCs along with our IP phones - we use certain Microsoft technology that is no longer available for Macs (remember ActiveX?). My employer provides a wireless router as well (a NetGear MR814v2).So far I've used the router entirely for wired connections including our household Macintoshes. But now I'd like to break free of the wires and allow wireless networking throughout the house. It appears that the Macintoshes, though they are equipped with Airport cards, don't recognize the router as it is currently set up. I realize that most of the configuration needs to be done on the router, but I find scant references to wirelessly connecting the Macs.Do you have any suggestions, or recommendations? Would an Airport Express WAP help me to easily configure a wireless network?


WPA wireless security is definitely what you will want for your mixed network. The main reason is that WPA is implemented with the same passkey system on both the Mac and Windows OS. WEP encryption is flawed and in mixed networks WEP often uses long Hexadecimal passwords that rarely work the first time you enter them. The largest Problem with WEP is that any kid with enough time can crack it. WPA is currently safe from Wi-Fi spying, and for business work that's essential. If your wireless router supports WPA, then start using that instead of WEP and as long as your Macs are running 10.3.9 then you should be able to connect. Almost all wireless equipment is cross-platform, so there should be no reason to buy extra equipment. If all else fails, an Airport Express connected to the router will get you wireless quickly ( that helps get you going without the cords.

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