Monday, February 6, 2017

Securing Your Wi-Fi Connection

One of the biggest internet developments in recent years has been the explosive proliferation of Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi, in laymen's terms, is wireless internet and it is everywhere now. Many households now have it, as well as schools, businesses and stores. What would Starbucks be without a Wi-Fi hotpot?

This explosion of Wi-Fi makes sense when you see how much more mobile computing has become. Laptops are quickly taking over for desktops, and manufacturers are looking to create slimmer, lighter, more portable ones all the time.

Phones have now become mini computers themselves, since the SmartPhone revolution. Taking it one step farther, many companies offer “tablets” now, which are almost a combination of phone and laptop.

If you have this wireless internet technology in your home - you need to keep it secure. An unsecured Wi-Fi connection is another way that hackers can attack you.

If you use a Wi-Fi internet connection, it is recommended to secure it with a password. It is strongly suggested, you create a password so that unauthorized users can’t access it. This means your neighbors can’t get onto your internet connection, and more importantly either can nefarious people looking to cause damage.

If you don’t protect your Wi-Fi connection you are open to hackers using your connection for illegal activity. In a much more common event, you could simply have a neighbor leeching your available bandwidth. At worst it effects your internet bill, and at the least it will negatively effect your web browsing experience.

The first line of defense is a password: You will want to log into your router and set up a password. This will make sure no one can access your router besides you. Most routers have a default password, but it is likely something really bad like “password”.

Next line of defense; encryption: Unfortunately most wireless routers don’t have encryption on as a default. You should enable encryption right away. Use the strongest version of encryption that your network allows. WPA (wireless protected access) is the most commonly used today, but WPA2 is
gaining in popularity (both are great choices to use). WEP is the worst of all choices, it is better than nothing but pretty easily cracked.

Don’t forget to change your network’s SSID name: This isn’t really going to keep your connection more secure per se, but it will help people avoid logging onto the wrong network accidentally. Each router will have a name but most of them are something generic like “default”. Take the time to
rename yours to whatever you want.

Filter MAC Addresses: If you are an advanced user you can even set up your Wi-Fi to filter by MAC addresses. This is not about Apple’s Mac. Every laptop or Wi-Fi enabled mobile phone has a unique MAC address. You can set up your router so only certain devices can ever access it.

Now one other thing to mention in this chapter, is that you also have to think about security if you use a Wi Fi hot spot (say at the hospital, or a coffee shop, etc...).

Make sure you are using a legit hotspot. A lot of places will have their Wi-Fi connection name posted. If they don’t - do not be afraid to ask. Criminals have been known to setup Wi-Fi hotspots with names that seem legitimate, in order to get personal info.

You also need to make sure your antivirus is running and make sure Windows file sharing is turned off! Most computers are by default, but make sure.

Lastly, just avoid really sensitive information when you are using a public hotspot. Don’t share bank passwords, credit card info, paypal login or any other sensitive data that may be on your computer.

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