Protect Yourself:  Wireless SecurityWhen I search for wireless connections with my laptop, I’m always shocked at how many networks come up with full access. You wouldn’t invite some random stranger to prowl around your home, so don’t let them poke around your network and Internet. Be sure you’re secure.

Even someone with basic computer know-how would be able to piggyback on an unsecured wireless signal to access the Internet, download anything including illegal material, and see what you do online. Someone with hacking skills could even get into your personal computer files! This isn’t only a problem when you’re at home. Many free wireless networks in places like hotels and cafes are not properly secured so your information could be in danger there too.

There are a few different methods used to access unsecured wireless networks. One of the easiest and least threatening is sniffing. This just means someone is looking for an open network whether it be in your home or from a business. Once they locate one, the sniffer can then access sensitive information including your online purchases (with credit cards). You may have heard the term wardriving. These are sniffers who just drive around looking for networks. As long as you have a password, you should be fine. If you are using a public access point and password protection isn’t something you can count on, make sure anything you type into your computer is something you wouldn’t mind a stranger getting.

Your computer can also be “spoofed.” Most computers are set up for convenience sake to automatically sign-in to the network. A hacker can set-up a false network with a stronger signal and it will confuse your machine into using their network. The best way to protect against this is to manually connect to your wireless.

Like any encrypted technology, someone could just hack into your system by cracking the password. There are numerous programs available to help a hacker do just that. The best protection against this is to avoid simple passwords. Though it can be a pain for you, its best to use alpha-numeric passwords with special characters when possible. This means using both numbers, letters (capital and lower case), and characters such as . ? ! if allowed. Try to always have a minimum of 7 characters, thought more is better. For example, if you want to use your favorite vacation spot as a password, instead of tybeeisland make it TyB331sL4nD. See how I used numbers in place of the vowels?

The best security you have against wireless intrusions is knowledge. Know the risks and how to prevent them. If you want to be sure you’re safe, give us a call at (706) 253-6362. Justin has years of network and security experience he will put to use for you. For more tech tips, check out PC Co-Pilot’s Facebook Page.