Let’s face it, having wireless Internet in our home has become a necessity. As with just about everything in our digital age, the convenience does come with security and privacy risks. Here’s a roundup of common security pitfalls and the initial steps you can take today to make your network more secure.
Problem: People can steal your bandwidth.
Your neighbor, your neighbor’s guests, that car passing by – their devices can see your wireless signal. People have been known to “piggyback” on connections – when someone accesses your WiFi this can affect your connection’s speed and even end up costing you in the long run.
Solution: Change your default SSID so that your network cannot be easily guessed by others and create a strong password for it. Have fun with it. Never use your own name. One of the best ones I have seen was called “Surveillance Van“.
Problem:Your wireless connection has too wide a range.
Solution: You can decrease your signal range by modifying your router’s mode to 802.11g from 802.11n or 802.11b. Many access points allow you to decrease the amount of power it is transmitting with. If you want to make physical modifications, you can redirect your router’s signal directly to your computer by using aluminum foil to send the signal to a single direction.
Problem: Your router appears on your neighbor’s available wireless connections.
Solution: Disable SSID broadcast. This way, the only way guests can access your wireless connection is when you provide your network’s name to them.
Problem: You’re worried your files are easily penetrable through your wireless network.
Having an unsecure network gives third party users access to your precious data, which gives them full access to a lot of your personal information and confidential files.
Solution: One of the recommended security options you can take is change your wireless encryption to WPA or WPA2, which are considered much more secure than WEP. There are many programs out there that can bypass WEP encryption very easily. You may also restrict access to only trusted devices by filtering to certain Media Access Control (MAC) addresses.
When you have wireless enabled on your network, be very aware that the security of your network is no longer contained within the physical walls of your home. It is possible for people to be connected to your own network without you being aware. Ignorance is not an excuse. You must educate yourself or get help from someone else to lock things down as best as possible.