The holidays are over, the Consumer Electronics Show has passed, and now you have all these new shiny wireless gadgets you’re just itching to play with. But before you go and connect to the Internet, please understand that it’s all fun and games until someone gets hacked. And many times, this means when you are using wireless.
It’s often the security lies that can get us in the most trouble, and today I’m exposing them.
Hiding your SSID is bunk. Your router’s Service Set Identifier (SSID) is its broadcasted signal, and by default it might be called “Linksys,” “Belkin,” “Netgear” and so on. Or some people customize the SSID and name it “My Neighbor Should Clean His Yard.” Lots of security articles will tell you that one way to secure your wireless is to hide it or turn off its broadcasting. But really, this doesn’t help. There are a plethora of tools that can detect your hidden wireless network, so this presents a false sense of security. Broadcast your signal, but encrypt it.
The idea that Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) is “good enough” is bunk. WEP is bad enough in that if you use it to encrypt your wireless network, you might have your neighbor (the one who should clean his yard) hacking into your network and placing spyware on your devices so he can frame you for crimes you didn’t commit so you can go to jail and find that his lawn hygiene is the least of your problems. WEP is a dinosaur that was extinct a long time ago. Use WPA2 encryption and live happily ever after.
Turning off file sharing when using public Wi-Fi is partly bunk. Yes, you should turn off shared files on your devices when you leave your home network and access a public network, but that’s not going to protect all of your files. If you are on a shared public network without any encryption—which is what makes it public—then the data you share over Wi-Fi is vulnerable. When using public Wi-Fi, download a free program called Hotspot Shield to encrypt all wireless communications on your Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.