WiFi Security... Just How
Secure Is Your Access Point?

WiFi Security has become increasingly important as the number of Free Public WiFi Hotspots around the globe sky-rockets along with the use of WiFi laptops and mobile phones.

A survey by the Pew Center in 2010 found six in ten American adults are WiFi Internet users.

In the U.S. alone some 70,000 WiFi Hotspots have been set up in MacDonalds, Starbucks, Barnes & Noble stores, coffee shops, libraries, university campuses and civic centers across the nation.

But along with the greater convenience of using these Hotspots comes a much greater risk from hackers and cyber criminals snooping wireless traffic.

WiFi Security Definitions:

  • WiFi... wireless high frequency radio signal.

  • WLAN... wireless local area network.

  • WISP... Wireless Internet Service Provider.

  • AP... the Access Point to the WiFi connection.

  • WEP... the Wired Equivalent Privacy security standard ratified in 1999.

  • WPA... the WiFi Alliance supersedes WEP in 2003 with the more secure WPA (WiFi Protected Access).

  • WPA2... replaces WAP in 2006. WPA2 certification mandatory on all new devices bearing WiFi trademark.

  • EAP... Extensible Authentication Protocols added to WPA2 certification programs by WiFi Alliance in 2010.

  • WIPS... Wireless Intrusion Prevention System to improve WiFi Security.

  • 802.11i security... the latest most rigorous security applied to today's WLANs.

  • RF shielding... special window film and wall paint applied to rooms to minimize radio frequency signals escaping outside a facility.

  • USB/software tokens, Smart Cards... devices and software to further secure wireless transmissions.

The challenge all along with WiFi Internet Security has been to stay one step ahead of the hackers and cyber criminals.

Methods of "cracking" WiFi networks are becoming more sophisticated and innovative. Free and ever-evolving software is readily available online to help amateur hackers and criminal gangs alike in their attempts to attack wireless networks.

Precautions To Take At WiFi Hotspots.

  1. Laptop WiFi Security:
    Make sure to have the latest updated Virus and Spyware software, and Firewall protection in place and do regular virus scans.
  2. Keep All Data Backed-Up somewhere safe and easily accessible in case your laptop is "hi-jacked".
  3. Choose a Hotspot that requires Registration to ensure better security.
  4. Don't connect up to a Fake Hotspot. Before logging on to public WiFi confirm the name of the wireless network connection.
  5. Check if the Hotspot has Wireless Client Isolation and if the router is Encryption enabled.
  6. Use strong Password Protection. Regularly change passwords and don't keep a password list in your computer.
  7. Try to avoid banking or financial transactions in a public location. If you really must, ensure the URL is secure (i.e. https:// which encrypts data) and displays the Secure Padlock.
  8. Try to ensure no one nearby can read your screen.
How safe is Free Public Hotspot WiFi Security?

Home WiFi Security is also open to attack.

WiFi Security at Airports.

More WiFi Facts:
  • The University of Hawaii set up the first wireless computer network in 1970. Seven computers were deployed over four islands and linked back to the central computer on Oahu. (ref: Wikipedia).

  • Of the 60% Americans using WiFi Internet around half use laptops and 40% use mobile phones.

  • There are currently more than 220,000 public WiFi hotspots around the globe.

  • Tens of millions of homes, corporations and campuses use wireless technology.

  • A survey by AT&T in 2010 found 65% of small businesses would find it hard to survive without WiFi technology.

  • WiFi networks have limited range standards:
    802.11a reaches around 115ft indoors and 400ft outdoors;
    802.11b & 802.11g around 125ft indoors and 460ft outdoors;
    802.11n reaches around 230ft indoors and 820ft outdoors.
    These ranges can be greatly reduced by obstructions like brick walls, metal frames and siding.
    Although, some routers allow antenna upgrades.

  • 802.11b routers can suffer interference from other devices operating in the 2.4GHz band (e.g. some microwave ovens, cordless phones, baby monitors and Bluetooth devices).

  • Password and WiFi cracking software is readily available online. Even the locations of vulnerable Access Points are posted online by malevolent hackers.

  • No computer network is absolutely secure.

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