Wireless Internet (“Wireless Fidelity”) is a popular system for granting wireless Internet access to laptop and other PCs using radio waves for distances of up to 300-800 feet. Wi-Fi systems are now used in a great number of people’s homes because of the convenience and cost reduction resulting from not having to run Internet cables all through the building.
Usage of improperly configured Wireless Internet networks can lead to sensitive data being compromised.
Personal Data Loss is the most prominent risk associated with unprotected (improperly configured) Wi-Fi networks. If you use an unprotected Wireless Internet network the following may happen:
- Your email and “chat” messages may be intercepted
- Your usernames and passwords for financial and other websites may be intercepted
- Your website transactions may also be intercepted, ie, financial / medical and others
Financial Loss often follows the loss of personal data. The theft of credit card, banking, and investment accounts is the primary goal of almost all cybercriminals.
Implementing the following steps will help minimize risks to your network:
- Turn off the “broadcast” of your logon username (SSID). This will make your system more difficult to spot from a roving hacker’s laptop.
- Change your Wireless Internet logon username (SSID) to an obscure mixture of at least 10 letters and numbers that will not convey personal or business information
- Set your Wireless Internet Security Option to “WPA-2”. Set the Encryption to “AES” (Advanced Encryption Standard). AES encryption meets requirements for sensitive data. NEVER use “WEP” encryption-it’s too weak.
- Change your Wireless Internet logon password to an obscure mixture of at least 10 letters and numbers.
- Change your Wireless Internet Router “Administration” password to an obscure mixture of at least 10 letters and numbers. A surprisingly large number of Users leave their Router Administration password at its initial, factory-set value (often “password“), enabling hackers to seize control of their Wi-Fi networks and steal sensitive data.
- Configure your Router to permit Wi-Fi Internet access only to specific computers
- Keep your Router’s security software updated.
- Disable “Automatic Wireless Connection”. You do not want your laptop PC to automatically connect to any network in the facility – you could connect to a hacker’s system.
- Disable “Internet Connection Sharing”. You do not want your laptop acting as a Wireless Application Point (WAP) – you could connect to a hacker’s system.
- Keep your laptop firewall and anti-virus software constantly updated.
The majority of Internet security breaches can be prevented by proper configuration.