Most people simply won’t know!
Many of us take the view that as long as it works, that’s all we need to know. We’re not interested in the How or Why, but ask yourself this – Is My Wireless Secure?
Is Anyone else using it without my knowledge?
If the answer is “I don’t know” – then you need to get a Wireless Router Security Check
Why Isn’t Wireless Secure?
Wireless or WiFi as it’s also know is the ability to provide internet, file transfer and basic networking over the airwaves. You cannot simply restrict those airwaves to the boundaries of your home, but instead, they propagate out until the signal dwindles away.
This means that people outside your home can see your wireless network. If you have no security at all, then anyone can join your wireless network and access everything connected to your wireless router.
“It’s just like leaving your front door open for anyone to walk in and take whatever they like”
WEP, WPA and WPA2 Security
Most wireless routers have built in security features that are more often than not, disabled by default.
WEP (40 bit encryption) is the weaker of the 3 main security encryption methods and although this method does offer some form of protection, it’s quite easy to simply guess the password by using some freely available software. I’ve personally tested this and have successfully hacked into a network, fully able to monitor all internet traffic, passwords, websites and take any file from any computer connected to the router.
WPA (128 bit encryption) was the successor to WEP as a quick fix to resolve the hackability of WEP.
WPA2 doesn’t work for everyone as both your wireless router and wireless card built in to your smartphone, laptop etc must support WPA2. Many people who have set up WPA2 have reverted to WPA because one of their devices wasn’t able to connect to the router. WPA2 also marginally requires more processing power to decrypt the data putting extra strain on the router and resulting in slightly slower performance albeit, more secure.
Wireless Hotspots – Internet Cafes and Open Networks
This may surprise some of you!
When you connect to a public wifi hotspot – Lets say “Starbucks, McDonalds etc”, everyone that’s using this free service is on the same network. Everyone has connected via the same internet box at the back of the shop just as your friends and family connect to yours at home. There is absolutely NO DIFFERENCE in connecting to a public network such as these than having no security on your own home or business router or allowing a hacker easy access to your network.
If you have no firewall software on your computer or have “file sharing” enabled, then EVERYONE in the same coffee shop can access YOUR COMPUTER and take what they like. Advanced users could even monitor the network for usernames and passwords, gaining access to your bank or email accounts. It sounds really easy and i’m afraid – it really is.
If you use public wireless hotspots and don’t have any firewall software on your computer or aren’t sure whether you do – I’d personally recommend Eset Smart Security. There are free products out there but they’re generally Free for a reason – they just aren’t good enough to sell as they don’t work so good.
The Bottom Line…
Take the opportunity to check whether you have correctly enabled wireless security on your home or business router. It really is important and with identity theft on the increase, it makes good sense to ensure you’re protected.
If you’re not sure how to do this, SysFix can set up wireless router security and guide you through re-connecting your devices once encryption is in place.
If you’re REALLY WORRIED about wireless and it’s hackability, the failsafe method is to use network cables instead. The cables stay within your home, the door is locked and there is no way for the cable to escape outside of the perimeter of your home or business. Wireless Can!