By Lauren Roberts
Society’s come a long way since the days of picking up hitchhikers and leaving doors unlocked without a second thought. For better or worse, today’s world requires a lot more vigilance and privacy. Just as no one would reasonably offer a stranger a 250-mile lift to the next state, no one should offer strangers the opportunity to rifle through their online lives. Yet many people do just that – not intentionally, but because of weak wireless security.
Why should users protect their wireless connections? There are a multitude of reasons, but chief among those is the fact that a wireless network with weak security can leave highly sensitive information exposed to criminals and identity thieves. With the right know-how and an unencrypted connection, a hacker can “see” into other users’ computers and intercept messages and attachments.
Users should also keep in mind that unsecured connections allow other users to download items – including potentially illegal material – using another person’s IP address, potentially making innocent users look guilty.
Protecting Your Wireless Connections
To protect themselves, users should know what kind of encryption is in place on the network they’re using. The safest choice is WPA2, which is more secure than its predecessors, WPA and WEP. Today, all wireless routers require WPA2 encryption, but in some older devices, WPA2 might not be supported.
Tech experts also agree that one of the keys to a safe wireless connection is a strong “key” or password. Assume that thieves are just as clever as the average user – only more experienced at cracking common passwords – and design wireless keys accordingly. Combinations of letters, numbers and symbols that aren’t easily guessable are the best solution, and it doesn’t hurt to change the password every few months for added protection.