The statistics are pretty frightening, 70% of home, and small business wireless routers providing broadband connections, have no security on them. In reply to a previous blog I had written in a local newspaper, I was urged by a post to write an article on wireless security, after the person had this experience.
“I've recently started taking my laptop on the train in order to do some work. I decided to fire up a great bit of software called Network Stumbler. This software uses the wireless network card in my laptop to record the details of every wireless network it finds. In 10 minutes I passed by around 50 networks, 7 of which were completely unsecured.”
Look, you have been sold a pup. Computers where never intended to be used for financial transactions. I know, they are widely promoted to do this. Great for the banks and the IT industry, promoting it as a convenient way to improve your life style. They make money, but this technology is not certified, or made secure enough to do this safely.
Would you use an ATM provided by your local bank, if you knew it was not certified by the regulatory authorities, did not have proper security on it, or if it was purchased on the cheap from a foreign country in a manufacturing plant with no security clearance? Well what do you think your computer is!
Wireless systems are another good example of this. You're encouraged to ditch all those old fashioned wired connected devices, and go wireless. It just makes everything neater and accessible from anywhere. The truth is, that if you are using your computer for financial transactions of any kind, you should not use an in house wireless system. Use a cable to connect your computer to your broadband modem. If you're using wireless at present, turn off the wireless feature, and use a network cable connection. It's just a whole lot safer, as long as you follow my instruction in this blog on securing your broardband modem.
If you have some technical skill, or employ a professional to set up that wireless broadband router security correctly, it will be a lot safer. Even then, people with a good skill level can download the tools necessary to break in to most in house wireless systems fairly easily. Not that they would need to bother with downloading the tools, as most systems don't have any security!
Wireless War driving is a pastime in a lot of locations now. This is where someone sticks an aerial on their car, and drives around to see what wireless systems they can break into. They then infect the system to take control of it, gather personal information, banking info, or just use the victims computer to download or send files. Wireless hacks are local, not from the Internet.
If you're running a business with wireless systems in house, you need to take more care, because your financial info, client data, and commercial secrets are at risk. A wireless system is basically a radio station, transmitting and receiving information. To anyone who can detect, and connect to it, it's like opening all your doors and windows, and inviting them in. I have heard numerous stories where locals have bragged that they don't need to pay for a broadband connection, they just use their neighbours!
Often I am asked the question, why a person's Internet access charges have sky rocketed. Most likely because someone is using their in house wireless broadband connection, or they have a virus. Everyone needs to get up to speed on all these security issues, so you can protect yourself. As a community service in my previous blogs, I have put in a lot of effort to educating readers, and providing solutions to the increasing security threats.
If you insist on using wireless, read this blog on securing it. There are also heath concerns about using computer wireless technology, as it is working in a similar frequency band to mobile phones. Read this article.
The fact is, consumers should be demanding security, over features and convenience!
© 2010 Peter Daley,
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