Is your computer secure? You may have set a password to stop anyone in your house logging on to it, but is someone sitting outside your house accessing your files?
I was talking to someone the other day who found the hotel they had booked into did not have wireless broadband. So what did they do? They got in their car, drove around, and within a few minutes found an unsecured wireless connection they could access with their laptop to check their emails. This use of someone else’s broadband connection was not malicious; all they stole was a small amount of data transfer which was unlikely to cost the broadband owner anything extra. But what could have happened if their intensions were more sinister.
Once on someone else’s wireless network what can you do? Well you could:
- Access files in any shared folders on the PC’s in that household or office if they are connected to the broadband router, via wires or wireless, and even put files onto those PC’s.
- Send anything to their printers, if shared, that will print out when they turn their printer on.
- Use that broadband connection to download files, browse dubious websites, or send SPAM e-mails.
- Infect the PC’s with viruses
So how do you protect yourself? There are a number of simple steps you can take when setting up your wireless router
- Make sure your wireless connection is encrypted using WPA encryption
- Pick an encryption passphrase that is not easily guessed, ideally containing letters and numbers
- Change your routers logon password to something other than the default
- Disable access to the router management pages via wireless
- Do not use a wireless name (SSID) that could identify yourself, your location, or the model of your router
By implementing the above you will protect yourself from the risk of someone sitting outside your house, browsing through your files, and possibly stealing your passwords and bank account details. So don’t delay, check your wireless router is really secure.
ASL Computer Services
Specialists in computer support for small businesses