Wireless Networks: Is yours secure?

By | June 16, 2007

Have you ever been hacked? If you run a wireless network, you are extra exposed to the possibility of being hacked! Your signal travels through walls, and can be picked up by neighbors if you live in apartment buildings!

I had stupidly ignored this when I restored my wireless network at home. Woops! Just recently my pc has been running slowly, so I began to wonder if there was spyware. I’m busy running checks right now, I think I should be okay! But I got a scare. I do access financial stuff over the web, and since hacking unencrypted wireless signals ain’t difficult, I can’t believe I forgot to restore the security settings!

So here’s how to protect yourself:.

1. ensure that you are using a FireWall. In Windows XP, a firewall is installed for you but can be hard to find in early versions. Find the Network Connections area and click on the Advanced Tab to make sure your FireWall is activated.

firewalls

Later versions include a security center in the Control Panel. A big improvement.

2. Get yourself a virus scanner. Get it updated. And run it. Once you run it often enough, and practice safe browsing habits, you’ll find it less necessary to run often. But you should certainly do it once in a while. I’ve been using AVG AntiVirus 7.5 for quite a while now. It’s great, free for home use, and quite stable. Much less fussy than many of the big names, and well-recognised.

avg virus

3. Scan yourself for Adware or Spyware. You can use a tool called Spybot Search & Destroy. This software helps you to scan your system and provides excellent updates. You need to update it and run it regularly, just like an Anti-Virus software. However, no such tool is foolproof, so I’d also recommend at least one other tool: AVG Anti-Spyware Free which will help you to find things that S&D does not.

spyware

4. Last is a new contender also from AVG called AVG Anti-Rootkit Free. I don’t have any word on its reliability but it seems quite useful, esp. after the Sony scare last year.

rootkit

For $0, you’re all set to protect yourself! If you like what you download from these guys, give them a shout and buy a license or donate a few quid. Most of all, say something good about them! I know I greatly appreciate these tools.

5. After that I encrypted my network. I run slightly older hardware so I chose WEP with 64-bit encryption using a HEX number. I also set the channel differently, the SSID and rebooted everything. It’s a little more secure! If you are unfamiliar with setting your wireless options, you should ask for help or read the manual. Playing about with it will help, too. If you can’t or don’t want to encrypt your network, then use a regular network cable instead of wireless. It’s far more secure. I have one set aside for emergencies.

Happy Computing! And stay safe out there!

Author: InvestorBlogger

Investorblogger.com takes you on a 'Random Walk To Wealth' through money, investing, blogging and tech. We'll explore my insights, mistakes, and experiences together.