Security truths evolve, meaning, they change, and you must keep up with this, particularly with wireless security (Wi-Fi). Advice for wireless security can quickly become outdated. There are actually three big wireless security myths swirling around. I know this because I’m a security analyst for both online and offline issues.
#1. Limit the IP address pool to restrict number of devices that can connect.
Even if your cable company tech recommends this, it’s no good. The unfounded idea is that when the range of allowable IP addresses is limited, this makes it hard for hackers to connect. However, the size of the pool doesn’t matter because hackers can just determine which IP addresses are open and use those.
#2. Hide your network’s SSID to conceal it from hackers.
Nope, this won’t work either. Wireless routers broadcast their service set identifiers (SSIDs); your device shows these so you can see which Wi-Fi options are in range. The idea is to hide your network’s SSID to prevent hackers passing by from using them.
However, most devices today see networks even if the SSID is concealed. An apparently unavailable SSID won’t stop a hacker. If you think there’s no harm in blocking the SSID nevertheless, think again: Hiding it may make your network more appealing to the criminal, kind of like hiding the cookie jar-something must be pretty rewarding in there.
#3. Enable MAC address filtering to select who can connect.
Sounds like a plan, but it isn’t: Using router settings to enter the MAC (media access control) address of every device that connects to your network; entering the MAC address will permit only users with these addresses to gain access to your router, thereby keeping hackers off-limits.
But forget this hassle because all a hacker need do is analyze a network, identify allowable MAC addresses, and he’s in.
Security that actually works
- Go for encryption – and the best, at that – for your router. The best currently is WPA2. Coupled with a strong password, this is a winning security plan. A strong password has at least 12 characters combining letters (upper and lower case), numbers and symbols. Get new hardware if your router doesn’t support WPA2.
- VPN – a virtual private network provides private communication over a public network. Transmissions of sensitive data will be private, such as between you (at home) and your employer.
- VPN again, but this time, one you can use for when you’re using your device in unprotected public realms such as an airport or coffee shop. Using your device in public makes your data vulnerable to hijacking. This type of VPN protects you from hackers and other voyeurs from peeping in on your web surfing activities, credit card information, messages, etc.
So there you have it, the major security facts and myths that surround Wi-Fi.