Picture these scenarios.
You are halfway on the highway and you remembered the email you forgot to deliver before going to your office. Or, you forgot to post on your social media account a selfie you’re proud of. Or maybe you had your laptop open (or maybe your smart phone) and are getting ready to connect to the Internet using the free WiFi of the hotel or bus station where you presently are.
On paper, it is perfect. However, getting connected to the web via a Wi-Fi from anywhere else has danger written all over it. Luckily, if you are reading this, you might just be able to lessen the risk.
There had been surveys that say 70% of tablet owners and more than 52% of users of smart phones use Wi-Fi in public hotspots. Few people, however, are aware of the fact that confidential data and sensitive information – details of credit cards, information on accessing digital places, etc. – are easily intercepted now by unscrupulous people. Public Wi-Fi is now the favorite target of cybercriminals.
Every Wi-Fi connection that is not secured always attracts hackers who seek to get sensitive (and valuable) data. They can sometimes control networks through this.
Home Network Security
Broadband routers (sometimes called wireless routers, hub or AP) are needed to setup a home Wi-Fi network and the capacity to access it as well. At the site of the devices manufacturer, users can input their details (account info, network address) including the user name and password. These are usually accessed by a user and password of the default administrator. Usually, this information is manufacturer-specific and familiar to hackers. As user, you need to alter them right away.
The network name of these manufacturer-specific routers is SSID (Service Set Identifier). Even if the hacker knows it, the SSID don’t just allow access offhand. When a hacker sees the network with a default value still in use, the assumption is that the target network is vulnerable because the configuration is not finished. Again, there is need for the immediate change of the SSID itself.
The hub starts broadcasting the SSID regularly once the Wi-Fi is set. The reason is to allow other clients of Wi-Fi roaming in-and-out of signal range to be able to reconnect. You need to disable the broadcast of the SSID.
One note: The SSID that is not broadcasted will have a display of Other Network in Windows 7 and later versions. A hacker knows when someone is trying to hide something in a network and will assume it is hiding something valuable.
In home networks, the reach of the signal is set by the location of the router. You can set your it near a window or in an open space if you need to have your Wi-Fi is accessible by everyone. If not, the middle of the home is the best place.
If you are offline for long periods, maybe enjoying a holiday, unplug the router. When online, ensure that a firewall is set. Modern routers usually have built-in firewalls. Sadly, people can disable them. Make sure the firewalls are on all the time. You may also install a firewall software on every device that is connected.
Encryption is still the best protection, though. It will take major work for hackers to unscramble your information should they be lucky to intercept your data. Make sure that your option to encrypt your data is enabled. It comes with the hardware for your network.
Old routers used to have the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). This encryption was replaced with Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), a more secure system. Later, it evolved into WPA2.
WPA and WPA2 work differently. The Pre-Shared Key (PSK) is designed specifically for home, and this is a Personal setting. You will be needing to put a password to start. It provides access to your network’s devices using the same password. There is need here to use passwords that have a mix of alphanumeric characters in caps and lower case, and symbols.
The encryption setting for the Enterprise is called RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial In User Server) and tailor-fitted for agencies and corporations. Its higher encryption security level needs a RADIUS server or server with RADIUS as host.
You can check out the common setting on this because all home network devices have to use the same procedure.
By nature, public Wi-Fi is not secure. You can see it from the start.
A hacker can make a fake Wi-Fi link. This means you should not connect to just any network, especially if you don’t know them. Or, it could steal your data. This means the name might be familiar (established brands, famous locations) but they are bogus.
Check with the staff before you connect in the place where Wi-Fi is free. Check the IUP address, the name of the service for compared to the data supplied, before connecting.
Never share. Turn off resources that enable printers and the like from setting meant for your home or office. These facilities might be accessible to everyone.
Always encrypt. HTTPS is good when visiting sites. Enable SSL or TLS when you need to encrypt data and send it elsewhere. When using Outlook, SSL is good for encrypting your message.
When your browser has HTTPS in the url bar, you can be sure you have a secure encrypted connection. Log out if they are not around. Some sites use HTTPS by default while the rest support the protocol if typed in.
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) protects your data and encrypts them as they go through the Wi-Fi network. This is best when sites do not support the SSL feature. Your data is re-routed by VPN via a secure private network, which shelters your data from threats.
Do not trust anything until it’s verified. You can check the security of your hotspot before connecting. You need to protect your devices. Enable your firewall, anti-virus and security. Always encrypt. WPA2 has to be enabled. Check if the site has HTTPS. A VPN is always good to consider when using online services. If you don’t need it, don’t connect. Your emails can wait, either back from or in a public place.