You take a seat at your local restaurant and pull out your laptop from your laptop bag. The uniqueness of the restaurant stuns you a little. You have been here several times, but this time looks different. You come here because they serve your favorite food and because the restaurant has a strong Wi-Fi that allows you to do anything and everything, from downloading music, movies, browsing through social media platforms, among others.
Next to you is a teenager with a backpack. You have little concern because he is “just a customer like you” who also comes here for the Wi-Fi. However, you do not know that he is an enemy to the Wi-Fi and the internet community at large. In his backpack, he carries a black box (Wi-Fi Pineapple) with several antennas sticking up. He is about to hack your Wi-Fi connection!
7 Practical Wi-Fi Security Measures to Stop Hackers
Wireless connections come with the convenience of a seamless data connection; it is also a subject of security vulnerabilities, as it has already been witnessed in the past. Wi-Fi security has thus become an essential point of concern.
The first step to remaining secure is knowing some of the risk’s hackers use to get into a wireless connection. Usually, hackers leverage on small loopholes and mistakes that users make while connecting to a wireless connection.
Whether it is a home or work connection, the risks of an insecure Wi-Fi connection are more or less the same. Some of the risks include the following:
- Evil Twin Attacks
- Wireless sniffing
- Unauthorized computer access
- Shoulder Surfing
- Theft of mobile gadgets
As I mentioned earlier, you must take your time to learn how these tricks work to be in a better position to deal with them.
What You Can Do To Minimize The Risks To Your Wi-Fi Connection
Here are some practical measures you can take to stop Wi-Fi hacking:
1. SSL Encryption
The reason hackers find it easy to attack wireless networks is because data is transmitted using radio technology, unlike the case of wired networks that use dedicated cables, which a hacker will need to physically access to steal data. Even so, much of the trouble brought about by Wi-Fi attacks could be minimized by using digital certificates such as SSL certificates.
They are an excellent option for encrypting your in-transit communication when using wireless networks. If budget is a concern, cost-effective alternatives such as cheap RapidSSL and Comodo PositiveSSL also afford the same encryption level at low prices.
In a nutshell, if you have a website that you use a wireless connection to access, it will be wise to ensure that the website has an SSL certificate.
2. Never Use Default Passwords
Much has been talked about the significance of passwords in cybersecurity. You have probably read about why you need to secure your digital lines with robust and unique passwords. Similar password practices apply to Wi-Fi connections.
Usually, most network gadgets come pre-configured with default administrator usernames and passwords. However, such passwords only provide marginal safety as hackers can easily retrieve them.
Changing the default login credentials makes it extremely difficult for a hacker to access your device. Additionally, it is recommended that you periodically change the passwords to make them even more difficult for hackers to crack.
3. Purge All Networks You Do Not Use from Your Preferred Network List
Every device has a Preferred Network List which is a list of all those networks that your device will trust automatically. The list is usually generated automatically from all the networks you previously connected to.
The bad thing with PNL is that it cannot distinguish the networks that share names and security types. It means that after connecting to a StarTrek Wi-Fi network a single time, your device will automatically connect to any Wi-Fi with such a name.
Hackers will thus create rogue access points that mimic names of your previous access and conduct awful attacks such as Man-In-the-Middle attacks.
The remedy here is to delete all idle networks you do not use. Doing so is not difficult because all you require is to visit your “Manage known networks” tab and click “forget” to all the networks you do not want your computer to access automatically.
4. Use Virtual Private Networks To Keep Your Local Traffic Encrypted
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Federal Trade Commission recommend using virtual private networks while using public Wi-Fi. VPNs are important because they establish a protected network connection whenever you are using public Wi-Fi.
They work by encrypting your internet traffic and disguising your online identity. Therefore, they make it hard for hackers to keep track of your online activities and prevent them from stealing your data. It means that surfing the internet with a VPN makes the VPN your data source.
As a result, your internet service provider and other third parties will not be able to see your online activities and the data you share with other parties. As a safety measure, always ensure that you have a VPN when using public Wi-Fi.
5. Avoid Using Hidden Networks
A genuine Wi-Fi access point will display all the details a nearby device needs to connect to it. Such details include supported encryption and network SSID. On the contrary, hidden networks never show beacons and rarely announce themselves.
A client device will need to be within a reasonable range and have required details about the network to connect to it. It also means that a hidden network can never be included in the nearby access point list, which in theory, makes it difficult for a hacker to know about the existence of the wireless connection.
The popular fallacy of security by obscurity can never work for you. In truth, hiding your Wi-Fi network only exposes you to real dangers as hackers will find it easy to track your smart devices.
6. Adhere to Best Password Practices
Passwords have been said to be the first line of defense that will protect your networks from intrusions. Hackers will employ different mechanisms such as brute force attacks and dictionary attacks to try and crack your passwords or guess their way into your network.
Weak passwords will give intruders an easy time. If you have secured your wireless network with a weak password, it might just be a matter of time before hackers force their way in
Reusing passwords has proved to be a major menace when it comes to poor password practices. According to a Google / Harris Poll online security survey, 60% of people use one password across multiple platforms. It will be so bad for a hacker to access your wireless connection using a password he picked from an old website or account you no longer use.
As a best practice, ensure that you use a unique password in locking your Wi-Fi. It would also help if you employed other best practices elements, such as using strong passwords and changing them frequently.
7. Use Firewalls and Security Software
Modern network routers usually come with in-built firewalls. You must always ensure that the feature stays on whenever you are using the network. You must also ensure that every device connected to the router is running on the latest operating systems. System updates often come with advanced security features to help prevent any vulnerabilities.
Public Wi-Fi have become a hotbed for hackers. Hackers leverage the fact that most users do not take precautionary measures to safeguard their networks from security threats.
This article has highlighted some of the vulnerabilities associated with using public Wi-Fi and explained some of the Wi-Fi security best practices that will keep you safe from such threats. Always ensure that you employ multiple security measures for utmost safety.