Like many of you, I have grown accustom to having a wireless network in my home. What would I do if could no longer sit on the couch with a laptop and read my email, or surf the web on the back patio. But the luxury of wireless can come with a price. Information thieves are out there, and they are actively seeking our personal information through wireless networks. You can protect yourself. Avoid making these mistakes with your wireless home network and learn what you can do to be more secure on you wireless home network.
Open Access Point
Don’t make it easy for people to steal your personal information. Any security is better than no security. Straight out of the box, many wireless routers default to a non-secured state in order to make installation easier, so you should change this right away. Many information thieves will simply move on to your neighbor’s non-secured wireless network since it will be seen as an easier mark.
Using WEP Security
Yes, I did say that any security is better than none, but if you have the option to go with WPA security instead of WEP, please start using WPA. WEP security has been proven to be quite weak. Any tech savvy person can sit in a car on your street and crack your WEP encryption in about 30 seconds using freely available tools downloaded from the Internet. WPA security has been proven to be much more secure and in most cases easier to implement. Many older routers do not support the new encryption scheme of WPA but do support WEP security. If this is your only option, then by all means use WEP, but seriously look into upgrading your wireless router to a newer model.
Not Changing the Router’s Default Password
How many of you have never bothered to change the default password on your router? Seems like a very simple thing, but thousands of us never do it. Here are plenty of websites that list the default passwords for many consumer-based wireless routers. If just a few trial and error sessions is all it takes to break in to your network, it might be worth it to just take a couple of seconds to do this quick fix.
Automatic Connection Settings Computer
If your wireless router were on the fritz, would you know it? Windows and Mac computers try to make connecting wireless as easy as possible and will automatically connect to the next available network. This could be neighbor’s open access point which for one, is unlikely to make for friendly neighbors if they find out you’re using their network, or two a little unethical (kind of like stealing cable). Check your settings and make sure you are only connecting the wireless networks you intended to use.
Broadcasting your SSID
Wireless routers allow you to broadcast your SSID. This is like the name of your wireless network. It acts as a beacon allowing others to more easily find your network. Newer routers by default do not broadcast your SSID in an attempt to be more secure. Not broadcasting the SSID will stop your neighbor from accidentally trying to connect to your network, but will not deter a determined hacker. Hackers have tools that will show them the SSID if at least one computer is using the wireless network. The real message in this one is to not think that hiding your SSID is enough.
Wireless networks are a great way to stay productive while being comfortable. I don’t want to discourage anyone from taking advantage of this great technology, but I do want all of you to be safe. What are your thoughts on the above mistakes?