Wifi hacking is a particularly relevant topic, as we’re all using the very things involved… computers! Virtually every computer manufacturer now produces PCs and laptops with Wifi capabilities and a large percentage of us use wireless networks to access the web. You may even have downloaded this guide via a wireless connection!
If so, I’m pretty sure you’re aware of just how easy it is to connect to a nearby network that hasn’t been password protected, perhaps your next door neighbors? Some people even choose to piggyback other wireless networks rather than pay for their own at all!
I agree that using somebody else’s Wi-Fi connection isn’t exactly the crime of the century and isn’t likely to have SWAT kicking down your door any time soon. You may have even used somebody else’s network yourself, but in reality unsecured network usage is a potential jackpot for a hacker or identity thief.
You may not have realized this, but every time you connect your PC or laptop to a foreign Wifi connection, you are granting the host full access to your computer and all the information stored on it! So you may think your neighbor simply forgot to password protect his wireless network, but he may have left it intentionally open for people like you to connect to.
With a bit of technical knowledge, the host or account holder can create a ‘proxy server’ to harvest the data from connected computers. Advanced hackers could even decrypt protected data from your computer such as login and password details to various sites. This is a classic ‘baited’ technique of stealing your data, luring you into using an unsecured Wi-Fi with the intention of snatching your private data right from under your nose!
But Wait! There’s More…
The Wifi security issues work in reverse also. When a new account holder sets up a wireless internet connection and fails to protect the network with an encrypted password, they are at risk just as much as those above, if not more! A small percentage of people setting up Wi-Fi connections do not really understand the security related issues and so they end up using their wireless network without passwords, others simply do not care who uses their network.
Normally this is because they don’t have a full understanding of just how terrible the consequences can be. Did you know that you are liable for any illegal activities that take place on your bandwidth? For example if your neighbor decides to jump on your Wi-Fi connection and download movies or music, you will end up facing the music (sorry for the pun!) for copyright infringement as it will be traced back to your account.
More sinister usage such as illegal pornographic material certainly will have SWAT kicking in your front door! “But it wasn’t me” simply won’t cut it. Also allowing others to access your connection is a guaranteed way to expose yourself to the dangers of identity theft directly. Anybody who is ‘piggybacking’ on your wireless connection can access your emails, your files and even your browsing history (which will show where you hold accounts!) to build up a profile on you. Scary, eh?
WiFi Hacking Defensive Tips
- Use a firewall to help secure your wireless network; setup the firewall to only accept secure connections.
- Password protect your laptop or PC.
- Password protect your wireless network.
- Do not allow others to access your wireless connection.
- Never connect to an unknown wireless network.
These tips will not protect you 100% from WiFi hacking but I can ensure you that if you follow them you will be able to avoid many of the pitfall that comes with an WiFi connection.
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Identity Theft Protection