Security is a growing concern for people everywhere. Protecting the car, home and person is slowly becoming even more of a priority for many Americans. Citizens all over the country are spending hundreds to thousands of dollars securing all their possessions. However, most of these people tend to overlook one huge gaping security hole at both their home and office. This hole provides would be thief's and misfits with access to some of your most vital data. People are exposing their information daily, as if they were driving around town with their wallet on the top of their car. And, the most intriguing part of this problem is, how easily it can be fixed.
If you haven't figured it out yet, the overlooked vulnerability I'm referring to is the wireless router. It sits there blinking it's green lights looking innocent and playful. Who would guess that this device provides malicious hackers with access to your computer and ultimately your information. Even old routers with the security activated are a weak defense against experienced criminals. The tools needed to crack an old routers security is readily available to a knowledgeable hacker. In a conference last year, the FBI managed to crack an old routers security in 2 minutes with tools they found online.
It's so important to patch up any vulnerabilities in your home or office network. I recently moved into a new home, and I made an amazing discovery as I set up my wireless router. Most of my neighbors also had wireless internet. Out of the 5 or 6 networks available to my computer only 2 had any kind of protection. On one network I was even able to get onto the families computer and if I had wanted to I could have looked at any file. It was a complete shock to me how careless people are with their networks. Lots of people believe that their computers security is enough. They think that it's not a big deal if someone jumps on their network to surf the web. They don't understand that there are loads of people out there trying to get their sensitive information.
In my office it's the same story. I currently have 4 networks showing up on my airport display. Out of those 4 only 2 have their security turned on. A breach like that, at an office, is a gross error on someone's part. At an office your not only storing your own sensitive data but data on your employees and clients as well. It's unacceptable for any company to allow this kind of oversight.
The problem is most people don't realize how easy it is to turn on the security in their router. For most routers all you have to do is get into the administration page and turn it on. The thing to remember is that all routers are different so make sure to read any documentation sent with the device. Also, it's important to note that if you have a choice between WEP and WPA go with WPA. WEP has proven to be really easy to hack, and while WPA isn't completely unbreakable it is a bit more secure. Another good tip is to turn off SSI broadcasting on your router. By following these two suggestions you've just made your router a hard target. This means most hackers probably won't bother with your router, but will turn on your neighbors who haven't been as wise.
Don't be fooled by the false sense of security one often gets using the internet. We've all heard about the scams and vulnerabilities and yet must of us do little to protect ourselves. It's hard to be concerned when the perpetrators are not breaking into our homes or cars. These criminals are so much more subtle, we don't even know when they are there on our computers. Looking into our lives and stealing our information. It's important to know that these people are out there, and that there's steps we can take to protect ourselves from their malfeasance. So start now, and go turn on your router security.
Sven Ignok is a Wisp operator, and BSS Support fan.