Protect your home WI-FI

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Protect your home WI-FI

Protect your home WI-FI

Wi-Fi Piggybacking is becoming a common phenomenon. You go out to a busy area, power up your laptop or mobile device, scan for wireless connection, and hope to get a signal that isn't encrypted.

Chances are there will be one or two signals that are not protected. The result is free Wi-Fi connection.

What's the downside? For the owner of the connection, he will start sharing what precious bandwidth he has with Joe Public. But the more sinister potential is someone now has the possibility of scanning his network and snooping at what's inside his hard disk without him knowing it.

Welcome to the era of the connected world!

A recent global online study indicates that 54 percent of computer users have admitted freeloading onto someone else's wireless Internet connection without their permission. Stealing Wi-Fi Internet access may feel like a victimless crime, but it deprives ISPs of revenue and slows down the connection speed of the rightful user.

If you're not encrypting your wireless communications, then it's not hard for cybercriminals in your neighborhood to snoop on what you're doing, whether it's surfing the Internet or remotely accessing work documents. They may even be able to infect your computer with malware designed to commit identity theft.

It is recommended that home owners and businesses alike set up their networks with security in mind, ensuring that strong encryption is in place to prevent hackers from eavesdropping on communications and potentially stealing usernames, passwords and other confidential information.

Here are some useful tips to help you get started:

1. Use encryption

Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA and WPA2) is a stronger encryption system than WEP, and can be used to reduce the chances of hackers intercepting your communications.

2. Use a password

Choose a strong password that has to be used to access your wireless access point. Do not use the default password that came with your Wi-Fi equipment or a dictionary word that is easy to guess or crack.

3. Use MAC address filtering

Wi-Fi routers and access points normally have the ability to prevent unknown wireless devices from connecting. This works by comparing the MAC address of the device trying to connect with a list held by the router. Unfortunately, this feature is normally turned off when the router is shipped because it requires some effort to set up properly.

By enabling this feature, and only telling the router the MAC address of wireless devices in your household you can reduce the chances of strangers' computers piggybacking your Internet connection.

Unfortunately it is possible for a determined hacker to clone MAC addresses, but this measure should still be taken to reduce the risks.

4. Do not broadcast the name of your wireless network

The name of your wireless network, known as the SSID, should not be broadcast to passers-by. In addition, choose an obscure hard-to-guess SSID name to make life harder for hackers. SSIDs such as home or Internet are not good choices.

5. Restrict Internet access to certain hours

Some wireless routers allow you to configure Internet access at certain times of the day. For instance, if you know you will not need to access the Internet from home between 9-5, Mondays to Fridays, then schedule your router to disable access between those hours.

6. Make sure your computers are properly secured

Make sure all your computers are properly secured with up-to-date anti-virus, security patches, and client firewall