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How to Secure Your Wi-Fi Devices

Malicious individuals can easily peek over your shoulder while you type in public places.

Malicious individuals can easily peek over your shoulder while you type in public places.

Your Internet-Connected Devices Are Vulnerable

Nearly everyone has at least one internet-connected device in the connected world of today. As the number of these devices grows, it's critical to create a security policy to reduce the risk of abuse. Negative actors may employ internet-connected gadgets to gather personal data, steal identities, jeopardize financial information, and covertly listen to or watch users. The configuration and use of your devices can assist stop this kind of behavior if you take a few safeguards.

Wardriving

A special type of piggybacking is wardriving. Internet connections may be made accessible outside of your home, even on the opposite side of your street, thanks to a wireless access point's broadcast range. Smart computer users are aware of this, and some have made it a pastime to drive through cities and neighborhoods looking for unsecured wireless networks while equipped with a wireless computer and occasionally a strong antenna. "Wardriving" is the term for this activity.

Piggybacking

Anyone with a wireless-enabled computer within range of your access point can utilize your connection if you don't safeguard your wireless network. An access point's normal interior broadcast range is 150–300 feet. This range can go up to 1,000 feet outside. Therefore, failing to safeguard your wireless network could expose your internet connection to several unauthorized users if your neighborhood is densely populated or if you reside in an apartment or condominium. These people might be able to steal personal files, monitor and record your web traffic, or engage in unlawful activity.

Wireless Sniffing

Numerous public access points lack security and do not encrypt the traffic they transmit. Your confidential communications or transactions may be at risk as a result. Your connection is being broadcast "in the clear," making it possible for unscrupulous parties to employ sniffing tools to gather private data like passwords or credit card details. Make sure that WPA2 encryption is used at the very least on all the access points you connect to.

Evil Twin Attacks

An enemy acquires knowledge about a public network access point and then configures their system to impersonate it in an evil twin assault. Unaware users connect using the adversary's broadcast signal, which is stronger than the one produced by the genuine access point. It is simple for the attacker to use specialized tools to read any data the victim sends over the internet because the victim is connected to the internet through the attacker's system. Credit card numbers, username/password pairs, and other sensitive data may be included in this data. A public Wi-Fi hotspot's name and password should always be verified before use. You can be confident you're connecting to a reliable access point if you do this.

Shoulder Surfing

Malicious individuals can easily peek over your shoulder while you type in public places. They can steal private or sensitive information by just watching you. You can spend a little amount of money on screen protectors that block shoulder-surfers from viewing your device's screen. Be aware of your surroundings when accessing sensitive information or entering passwords on tiny devices, such as phones.

Unauthorized Computer Access

Any directories and files you mistakenly make available for sharing could be accessed by a hostile person via an unsecured public wireless network and unsecured file sharing. Make sure to prevent sharing of files and folders when you connect your devices to public networks. Allow sharing only when it is necessary and only on well-known home networks. Make sure to turn off file sharing when not necessary. This will make it harder for an unidentified attacker to access the files on your device.

Mobile Device Theft

Not all attackers rely on wireless methods to access your data. Attackers could gain full access to all of your device's data as well as any linked cloud accounts by physically snatching it. Although it's crucial to take precautions to prevent loss or theft of your devices, if the worst did happen, little planning could help safeguard the data they contain. Now that the majority of mobile devices, including laptop computers, can fully encrypt their stored data, attacks that lack the necessary password or personal identification number are rendered ineffective (PIN). It's a good idea to set up your smartphone's programs so that they ask for login details before granting access to any cloud-based data in addition to encrypting the stuff on your device. Lastly, password-protect or encrypt each file that contains sensitive or private information. This will provide an additional degree of security in the event that an intruder manages to access your device.

How Can the Threats to Your Wireless Devices Be Reduced?

  • Modify the default passwords. To make setup easier, the majority of network equipment, including wireless access points, come pre-configured with default administrator passwords. These default passwords offer just mediocre protection because they are simple to find online. It is more difficult for attackers to access a device when default passwords are changed. Your first line of defense for safeguarding your device is the use of difficult passwords that you change on a regular basis.
  • Check the wireless security settings offered by your internet provider or the router's manufacturer. In order to help you secure your wireless network, your internet service provider and router manufacturer may offer information or resources. For detailed advice or directions, visit the customer service section of their websites.
  • Keep your Service Set Identifier safe (SSID). Avoid making your SSID public to prevent unauthorized users from simply accessing your network. All Wi-Fi routers give users the option to hide their device's SSID, making it more challenging for hackers to identify a network. Change your SSID at the very least to something distinctive. By leaving it set to the manufacturer's default, a potential attacker may be able to determine the type of router and potentially take advantage of any known vulnerabilities.
  • Your network's data should be encrypted. Your wireless data can't be viewed by anyone who has access to your network if it is encrypted. For this protection, a number of encryption protocols are available. Between wireless routers and wireless devices, information is exchanged via Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), WPA2, and WPA3. The most secure encryption at the moment is WPA3. Although WPA and WPA2 are still available, it is recommended to use hardware that supports WPA3 exclusively because utilizing the other protocols could leave your network vulnerable to attack.
  • Putting in a firewall Think about setting up a router or modem-based firewall on your home network, as well as a host-based firewall directly on your wireless devices. The data on your PC will be further protected by your network firewall against attackers who can access your wireless network directly.
  • Limit access. Your network should only be accessible to authorized users. Media access control (MAC) addresses are assigned to each piece of hardware connected to a network. By excluding these MAC addresses, you can control who can access your network. For details on how to enable these capabilities, refer to your user manual. The "guest" account, a popular feature on many wireless routers, is another option that you have. With the help of this function, you may give visitors wireless access on a different wireless channel and with a different password while protecting the confidentiality of your primary login information.
  • Utilize a virtual private network to connect (VPN). A VPN is used by many businesses and organizations. When away from the office, employees can safely connect to their network thanks to VPNs. VPNs block unencrypted communication by encrypting connections at both the sending and receiving ends. If you have access to a VPN, utilize it whenever you need to use a public wireless access point.
  • Maintain patched and updated access point software. Your wireless access point's maker will re-release fixes and software updates for the hardware on a regular basis. Check the manufacturer's website frequently to see if your gadget needs any updates or fixes.
  • Use caution when sharing files. When not required, file sharing between devices should be turned off. Never enable file sharing on public networks; only allow it on private or work networks. You might want to think about limiting access to all other directories and create a special directory just for file sharing. You should also password-protect whatever you share. Never share files from your full hard disk.
  • upkeep of antivirus software Install antivirus protection and update your virus definitions. Many antivirus systems additionally include extra tools for detecting and guarding against malware and adware.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2023 Arthur Dellea