Monday, October 8, 2007

WiFi wannabe? - You MUST See This

We often hear stories in the media of internet fraud and identity theft. Ordinary people have their lives turned upside down when some malicious stranger in an unknown location invades their computer and steals valuable information. Information that was perhaps thought of as being safely locked away within the computer’s hard drive has be accessed from a remote area without the computer’s owner even realizing – until he receives word from his bank that his credit card has been maxed out or his savings account has been emptied.

These are no urban myths – having sensitive documents such as credit card numbers, bank account login information and passwords stolen by hackers is a very real and ever-increasing threat in this globally connected world we live in. Most people don’t even understand the precautions they should be taking to prevent hacking on their computer. Every new story about credit card fraud only reaffirms people's suspicions that the internet is a dangerous place to transact. It also undermines the credibility of security software, as people generally only feel secure if they can SEE that their valuables are safely locked away. People will invariably have a "friend of a friend" who had all the whiz-bang security software installed on his computer and still got hacked. Unfortunately, putting your computer in a thick steel box with a combination lock isn't going to safeguard you against hackers while you're using the internet.

All this is amplified when you start talking about wireless internet connectivity. Where there is already a general suspicion when it comes to sensitive information being passed along wires, the thought of that information being sent through the air where almost anyone can virtually reach out and grab it creates alarm bells in most people’s minds.

The Real Hustle Team
Case in point is the following video from the British TV show The Real Hustle. The Real Hustle is a show that explores various scams throughout the world, and in doing so hopefully educates its audience on what to look out for and how to avoid getting duped.

The Real Hustle Team At Work

That video alone would be enough to turn a lot of people off using WiFi completely but I wanted to show it to illustrate how even if you think you have a secure network you may still be vulnerable.

The positive side to all this is, despite the outcome of the above video, it is possible to stop hackers (including those on the show) from not only stealing your wireless bandwidth but also your credit card details, etc.

If you haven't already, I suggest you read my previous post entitled "What’s The Beef With Beefing Up WiFi Security?". In the post I explain that it is possible to create a wireless network as secure as a wired one. It goes into methods of securing your wireless connection as well as offering a variety of software options for increased security.

It goes without saying, however, that before you even connect to the internet for the first time over a wireless network you should have the following things in place:

1. Personal Firewall Software (in conjunction with good Anti-Virus Software) – Don't just install it, LEARN how to use it and what it does for your computer.
2. Encryption Software – Don’t simply rely on a website being secure (using https://), make sure the data you are sending is encrypted before it leaves your computer.
3. Password-Protect computer files containing sensitive information.
4. Change the default information on your Wireless Router – As well as password-protect the router's configuration details.
5. Disable the "Service Set Identifier" broadcast – Your wireless router will periodically broadcast a beacon to let the world know that it is there. This beacon also includes some data, such as the Service Set Identifier (SSID), which is basically the name for the wireless network. It is not necessary to have this information broadcast from a home network, and disabling it will add to the difficulty a hacker has of finding your connection.

They are just a handful of security measures that you should seriously consider having set up and ready before you connect for the first time. For more information you should talk to your local (knowledgeable) wireless connection provider, or WiFi hardware-selling store.

Get secure!


Boris said...

This is just poor 30dc spam.

Didnt you read what Ed wrote?


It is stupid spammers like you, destroying the blogging platforms

Beer Worker said...

Thanks for sharing many good points regarding the internet security. Great info