A residential homeowner mentioned something to me recently that was both alarming and share-worthy! Periodically, an SUV would park at the end of their driveway, and with laptop in hand, the driver would bang away on the keyboard. At my suggestion, when the SUV appeared again, the homeowner disconnected the residential wireless router, and the SUV quickly drove away.
We will never know the truth behind the hard-working SUV owner; but the scenario described should serve as a reminder to all of us about the risks associated with the use of wireless internet/intranet networks.
It is true that the internet has provided us a means to streamline our lives by providing access to a vast amount of information. But this convenience provides a simple vehicle for opportunity. An individual pirating your wireless network could access unethical websites, perform illegal activities and/or acquire sensitive data, which would be traced back to your computer via your network address registered in your name. Network addresses are similar to driver’s license numbers or social security numbers…the owner is identifiable. And there is a high probability that you will be held responsible for the activity.
Common utilities and software exist; some free of charge that easily allows hijackers to pirate your login. However, recognize that no system of control is fail-proof. Below are some simple practices to ward-off wireless hijackers:
- Educate yourself on the threats and practices. The hackers’ motto: “ignorance is bliss.” Being uninformed is an invitation.
- Know what technology you are using and whether the technology is current or dated.
- Change commonly known factory configuration settings:
- Administrator password
- Disable SSID broadcasting
- Use the strongest encryption available for your computer.
- Use router firewalls.
- Change your passwords frequently.
- Keep your antivirus and firewall software on all computers attached to the network up to date.
- Strategically position the router to reduce access points from intruders outside of the home/business (signal will carry only so far, so be aware of how far your signal travels).
- Take the router access point down during periods of infrequent or non-use.
- Be proactive - observe your surroundings.
It is critical that you are vigilant in protecting access and monitoring threats.
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