Wireless internet has transformed the way we work and communicate. Gone are the days of being physically plugged in to your modem. With a laptop, smartphone, mobile or tablet, we can now connect and get online just about anywhere.
If you’re out on the go, you’ll find more wireless hotspots to connect to than ever before, and the number of hotspots is growing all the time. Leading hotspot provider The Cloud already offers over 8,000 wireless networking access points across UK and Europe, and they’re helping to provide railway stations, hospitals, and public spaces like shopping malls with access WiFi.
While this progress undoubtedly makes life a whole lot easier, and a lot more fun too, with wireless networking connections, there can be an increased security risk. In the good old fashioned Ethernet cable days, plug in to your modem and that was that. Wireless access means that others can potentially hijack your connection and use up your valuable bandwidth in the process.
But there are plenty of things you can do to make sure that when you surf online wirelessly, you’re fully protected. For starters, you can set up your connection so that it doesn’t broadcast your network’s name to your surrounding area. This way your network won’t show up on other people’s WiFi connection lists. All you need to do is disable SSID broadcasting. Just head to your access point’s administration page and uncheck the ‘Enable SSID Broadcast’ box.
As a default, most wireless access points set their security to WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) encryption, which is used to password protect user connections. However, if WPA (WiFi Protected Access) is available, it’s harder to crack than WEP, so make the switch to WPA. Just head to your access point’s admin page and, select WPA rather than WEP, and set your secure password.
Passwords are important too. Unbelievably, the majority of people still use ‘password’ as their password, or a chain of numbers like 12345. OK. This may be a whole lot easier to remember, but it doesn’t take an MI6 agent to crack that kind of code. So remember to mix it up with letters and number, try to keep it long, or if your password protection is case sensitive, mix up the capitals and lower case.