What you cannot see—can hurt your business and impact your privacy.
Wireless Fidelity, or WiFi, changed how we live and work. No longer tethered to desks, we use mobile WiFi and wireless networks to support our business, commerce, and personal communications.
WiFi is literally in the air at restaurants, libraries, airports, and businesses. Across the country, cities and towns are creating free WiFi hotspots in place of old telephone booths to improve connection, safety, and boost enterprise.
Whether it is LinkNYC in New York City, or Wicked Free Wi-Fi here in Boston, there is probably a free internet access point near you.
But how secure is your WiFi network—and should you care? The answer is that a lot of WiFi is not secure and you should care a great deal, especially if it is your own business or personal network. Unsecured WiFi networks are vulnerable in several ways:
- Free information: Personal and business information is valuable to hackers and bad actors. From siphoning money from bank accounts with pilfered passwords to acquiring personal information for resale on the Dark Market, weakly defended wireless networks are readily attacked by hackers.
- Unauthorized use: Criminal and non-criminal actors who use your WiFi network without authorization get a free ride at your monthly expense, as well as slow down data transfer.
- Exposure: Business files, intellectual assets, personnel files, money management, and human resource data are available free of charge to hackers who gain entry to your WiFi network.
- Sniff sniff: When you use—or offer—a free wireless network, assume electronic eavesdropping occurs. Sniffing software gives hackers the ability to filter data between your device and the internet. Specialized sniffer software intercepts the cookies sent to your browser from website you view. Oftentimes containing sensitive data, this process, called sidejacking, is another risk of a compromised network.
- And there is more: Evil twin and man-in-the-middle tactics fool users into believing they are using a legitimate WiFi hot spot instead of a hacker who is actually accessing network files and filtering transmitted information.
According to a recent internet threat report by Symantec, more than half a billion personal records were stolen or lost during 2015. The rate of cybercrime continues to skyrocket while agencies, businesses, and consumers continue to take toll of the damage and rush to put preventive measures in place.
What can you do to secure your wireless network?
If you are responsible for your business or home wireless network, take the following steps to protect yourself and improve security:
- Outside of your own network, use a virtual private network (VPN) when taking advantage of free, public WiFi.
- Change the pre-set name and password of your router. Resist using or reusing old passwords or common simple setup passwords like login, admin or password. Be sure to enable the use of encryption, like WPA2, on your router, computer and associated equipment.
- Disable remote login and administration of your wireless router. Sign out of administrative sessions on the router.
- Ensure your software, router software, firmware, and security tech and practices are robust and up-to-date.
- Be sure employees have cyber security training and updates on social engineering schemes and scams used to gain access to electronic business and personal information.
A data breach can cause irreversible damage to your finances and reputation. Remember, thieves often follow the path of least resistance. If your passwords are complex, your encryption is high, and there is difficulty accessing your wireless network—hackers may just look for an easier target.
When you have questions about network security, avoiding downtime, or disaster recovery—contact us. We offer monitoring support 24 hours a day.