As more people are connecting to the Internet wirelessly their personal information is becoming easily exposed. Criminals and identity thieves can easily hack into an unsecure Wi-Fi connection and get access to passwords, bank information and credit card numbers and you don’t want your employee with their online masters in accounting to have an ever tougher time keeping track of your money.
Everyone has heard horror stories about identity theft and financial crimes as a result of criminal hacking into a Wi-Fi network. With the tools that are currently available anyone can easily make their Wi-Fi network secure by taking a few simple steps.
Choose The Best Encryption Method
Encryption is the first line of defense for any Wi-Fi network. The use of encryption will encode any data that is transferred between a PC and a wireless router, protecting it from prying eyes. There are currently two types of encryption form available, Wireless Protected Access (WAP) and Wireless Encryption Protocol (WEP). WAP (and now WAP2) is the most secure and, therefore, the hardest to crack.
Anyone looking for the most secure Wi-Fi network should purchase a router with WAP or WAP2 encryption. It is important to know that most routers are shipped with the encryption turned off and therefore must be manually enabled. The process is simple and can be completed by following instructions that come with the router.
Routers that have WEP encryption can still be safe if they use 128-bit WEP keys. Owners should check the manufacturer’s website for any firmware updates that will help make the router more secure. Many companies are adding updates that support WPA.
Firewalls Are Not Enough
Many people believe that the firewall that comes with their router is protection enough. While a firewall will protect their data from being hacked through the Internet it will do nothing to stop the nefarious sort from intercepting data by tapping into their Wi-Fi signal.
Using a firewall on their individual computers will provide an extra layer of protection. There are many firewall programs that are available for very little cost. A simple Internet search will provide a user with many options.
Public Wi-Fi Hotspots
Free Wi-Fi connections at local coffee shops or libraries are the easiest networks for criminals to hack. Anyone using these types of Wi-Fi connections needs to take extra precautions. The need to make sure the network they are using is secure. This can be done by checking the address bar of their browser. If it begins with “https:” it is a secure site.
But that is not all that can be done. Users of public hotspots should also make sure the firewall on their laptop is on and that any file-sharing feature is turned off. Users should also refrain from accessing their bank accounts or credit cards while they are on a public network.
Using Virtual Private Networks
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is one of the best ways to protect a user when he or she is using a public Wi-Fi connection. VPN’s protect data by providing “tunnels” that encrypted data can travel though. These services charge a fee, either one-time or annually, but provide much needed security for users. They are also fairly easy to install.
There is no need for anyone to leave their Wi-Fi network vulnerable to anyone that wishes to steal personal information. Most security methods do not cost anything and only require a bit of time to set up.