Linksys WRT54GS WiFi Router

Wi-Fi Wonders Come at a Price – maybe loss of your Privacy

Wi-Fi is Wonderful

The constant supply of data to your smartphone, tablet, and other mobile devices makes life easier. The reliable connection to the Internet without using your data plan allotment is priceless. That’s why your family and friends all ask for your Wi-Fi connection information.

The Dark Side

However, the Wireless Access Point (WAP) that provides the signal to you and yours can also be a spy in your home or office. The default configuration when you take it out of the box makes it easy for the bad guys to take control of it.

Setup Your Router Safely

Wi-Fi (also written WiFi) routers destined for home or small office use typically include a security warning. Be sure to heed that warning, partly for the sake of keeping your own data safe, and partly to avoid becoming part of someone else’s problem. Charter membership in a botnet is not something you want to include on your resume.

Orange security Warning Label packed with a D-Link Wi-Fi Router, warning not to use the default security settings.
Security Warning Label packed with a D-Link Wi-Fi Router

 

Trust No One

Recognizing the challenges with incorrectly configured Wi-Fi in homes, it may seem safer to connect at a business you frequent. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi hotspots found in places you trust, like your favorite coffee shop, aren’t necessarily trustworthy either. Since Wi-Fi uses radio signals, passwords and other sensitive information can be intercepted by anyone in the vicinity.

Fake access points are an even sneakier way to capture your information, using a deceptive SSID (wireless network name). When in doubt, check with an employee to see whether you should connect to the GUESTS network or the Visitors network, for example. One could be there just to trick you into sending your information over an imposter network.

Wi-Fi vulnerabilities aren’t the only reason to avoid accessing sensitive web sites from public places. Even if data is encrypted, and sensitive information is concealed on the screen, shoulder surfing (someone looking over your shoulder) can reveal your passwords and other account information to someone who watches you enter them.

Final Thoughts

None of this is to suggest Wi-Fi is a bad thing. Wi-Fi makes life easier when used correctly.

You probably have at least one Wi-Fi router at home. Is it configured safely? Are you sure? Now would be a great time to check…

 

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