Secure your Wi-fi

Leaving your wi-fi open may seem like the neighborly thing
to do. After all, it’s not like you have to pay extra for someone else to check
their email on your wi-fi. Unfortunately, there are a number of pitfalls in
leaving it open.

Your ISP Terms of Service:

This is a somewhat controversial subject, but you should be
aware that most ISPs forbid you to share your internet connection with anyone
outside your home. While it is currently unlikely that they would catch you or
even bother trying, by using their service, you have agreed to their terms.

Safety of your data:

This is fairly easy to remedy, but many people don’t bother
changing their Workgroup name and actually disable password protected file
sharing because it’s easier. Anyone connecting to a network that can guess your
Workgroup name will have access to your shared folders if there is no password
protection. This could allow a hacker to replace files with infected versions
that would then allow them full access to your computer.

Another safety issue to keep in mind is that on a wireless
network, all data is being broadcast to everyone within the wireless range,
including the data that your computer is sending out.  If no encryption is enabled, sensitive data
such as your e-mail and chats could be compromised by anyone with a “packet
sniffer”.

Malware:

There are several infections that are network aware and will
happily hop from a neighbor’s computer to yours if on the same network. In
addition, a popular malware technique being used now is DNS poisoning. While
often done on the PC, this can also be done on the router causing your internet
searches to be redirected to a site that will deliver infections. Here is some
information about DNS poisoning from Tom’s Guide: https://www.tomsguide.com/us/Router-Exploit-Linksys-WRT54G,news-7547.html

Liability:

This is probably the best reason not to share your internet
connection currently. There have been cases recently where a neighbor or even
someone in a car, using open wi-fi, performed illegal activities. When those
activities are traced by IP address, what they find is the router, not the PC
that performed the action. That means, if someone uses your internet to commit
a crime, the police show up on YOUR door. Follow this link for recent news
regarding these kinds of cases: https://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110424/ap_on_hi_te/us_wi_fi_warning

Protect yourself:

So, how do you protect yourself? To start with, change the
default username and password for logging into the router’s user interface. The
next step is to set up encryption. When setting up encryption, you’ll be given
some options of the type of encryption including WEP, WPA, and WPA2. Ideally,
you’ll use WPA2. It is possible, that you may have some wireless devices that
don’t support it however, in which case you’ll want to use WPA. If possible,
try to avoid using WEP.  Being an
outdated technology, it might discourage the casual neighbor, but it does have
a security flaw in that it can be broken in under four minutes by anyone who
can follow instructions on Youtube. If you have devices that only support WEP
encryption, they may have firmware updates that can add WPA support. If not,
you’re better off replacing the outdated devices with something more current.

For detailed instructions on how to make these changes, you
can go to the router manufacturer’s website. Of course, if you’re not
comfortable making these changes yourself, you can contact a professional (such
as Hey PC Guy).

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