There isn’t a better analog to WiFi security than the steps we take to judge good relationships against the bad ones. A good wireless connection can make us productive, entertained, and make our lives generally better and more fulfilled. On the other side, an unsecured connection can make us lose money, time, and even our very identity; just like a toxic romantic relationship.
Thankfully, protecting ourselves against online attacks via WiFi is more straightforward than protecting against emotional attacks. Staying calm and doing a bit of introspection is still good, but tools and strategies work as well.
Also, expert advice for cybersecurity actually works.
Using a professional VPN provider, good anti-virus, and regularly cleaning your devices will make it next to impossible for snoopers and hackers to attack your devices. VPN providers like Le VPN provide multiple options for protection, including military-grade encryption and impenetrable servers around the world.
How Does WiFi Work?
Wireless fidelity, or WiFi, works in many of the same ways as a regular two-way radio. The walkie-talkie you maybe had as a child works on the same principle, with the data transfer for just audio being considerably lower than that for Internet wireless connections.
Once the devices are paired, the wireless router and the device use frequencies between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz to send and receive data. The more data you need to post, the higher the frequency will be.
Theoretically, the amount of data possible to be sent through radio waves is infinite, with only the lower spectrum being limited by the length of the string. As at one point this transfer would enter the visible range, we will literally have laser communication.
This would look weird in your living room or your local Starbucks, but will probably come useful in space.
Modern wireless networks only have slightly fewer wires than a LAN connection. While your device might not be physically connected to the router, the rest of the system is. As microfiber can pass much more data with much better fidelity without giving everyone around instant cancer, 95% of the network connects via a wire.
Only the last leg, the distance between the router and the device, is wireless.
This is also the most delicate part of the network when it comes to WiFi security. Depending on if you are connecting at home, at the office, or in a café or other public space, different dangers lurk and want to collect your data and additional private information.
Wired vs. Wireless Network Security
Most external solutions, meaning those pass your router, are basically the same. But, there are some differences when it comes to protecting your device, as well as your system as a whole.
The biggest issue that separates wireless security from those regarding Ethernet connections is the possibility for someone to either intercept or fake the connection. This way, the hacker, or malicious hardware, would pretend to be a known and trusted connection, or even your home connection.
Once your device is connected to the router, any data that is not encrypted will be visible. And, if a hacker is supervising the connection, they will be able to steal your data rather quickly.
One of the most common ways to fake a trusted connection is by name spoofing. For instance, someone may place a modified Raspberry Pi in a café with the same name as the regular WiFi. Additionally, the same password will work, as well. By the time the personnel of the business realizes what is going on, the perpetrator will be long gone with all the customer’s private data.
Generally speaking, the only way to completely protect yourself in this case is with a premium WiFi VPN, which has a good hotspot app that will encrypt all of that data.
WiFi Security Basics
The biggest question when developing your cybersecurity system for WiFi is where it will be used, by whom, and by what.
As a business owner, you may want to install free WiFi for your customers. People using your WiFi must know which one is your connection and that they will be protected. Ideally, you will use a VPN router to connect everyone and will need to be careful who can have access to your Internet.
A similar technique can be used for business that doesn’t have any walk-in customers. But, in those cases, you will also need to ensure that all of the IoT devices, such as printers and scanners, are also connected this way.
In an office, your WiFI should never be without a password. Also, you should have a very complex password that is granted by a system administrator. It should not be written in huge letters all over the wall, as is the case in so many companies.
Finally, for your home system, it is best to mix and match cabled and wireless connection. That way, you can focus which devices to protect in multiple layers and which can be relatively open. It is best to keep your printers and other smart devices connected only through your primary devices, such as a desktop, or a laptop.
If it is impossible to create security bottlenecks, you will need to connect each device separately to a VPN. You should also include some degree of cybersecurity even for the IoT devices.
The Myth of Free WiFi
There is no such thing as a free lunch or free drinks in this case. If somebody is providing you with a free connection to the Internet, they will want something in return.
When it comes to coffee shops and bars, the idea is quite simple. You spend your hours surfing Twitter and Tinder, drowning your impending sorrow in increasing amounts of alcohol. Not the best solution as far as your life goes, but not a huge issue when it comes to security.
A much more sinister ‘’Free WiFi’’ is the one you see at bus stops, some university dorms, or even public institutions. As there is usually no person directly responsible for these connections being safe, they are often hijacked by hackers.
Finally, some connections are openly after your personal information. Any WiFi that requests for you to log in by providing an email address and full name should be avoided like the plague.
Protocols and Passwords
As we are slowly getting used to the fact that our passwords remain remembered by devices, browsers, and other systems, we have started to neglect them. Most personal systems today only have rudimentary passwords and rarely enable WPA2 security protocols.
Most routers allow three types of protocols, WEP, WPA, and WPA2. Only the last one has an AES encryption and can’t be broken by brute force methods. There is also a WPA3 connection that is somewhat rare and provides exceptional WiFi security but can be found on the newest devices and routers.
This is especially important for a business that stores private information and has remote access. Someone could bring a lot of processing power into the range of the connection and hack WEP and WPA links.
Even home connections should have as good a protection as possible, as well as complex passwords. The best trick is to make a flash drive with a text file with all the passwords you need and store that drive in a secure location.
Those with some encrypting experience can even make full digital keys. But, even simple text files work miracles, as those passwords can be a mix of 26 letters, numbers, and symbols.
VPN at All Times, at All Places
While for many, this information will sound like a beating of a long-dead horse, it needs to be repeated as many times as needed until everyone starts doing it:
All your devices need to be connected to a VPN.
Not just your phone or laptop, but every single device that enters your home, including IoT devices. If you are using Le VPN, you will have a fast VPN internet connection as well as options to connect multiple devices.
In case you don’t want to invest in a VPN router, you will need to connect all of your IoT devices through a single device. Then this device will be connected to a virtual private network so that they can access their online services safely.
Protection at Home
Although protecting your home is easier than protecting your place of business, there are a couple of downsides that need to be discussed.
Primarily, there is a question of legal structures in your region not caring about privacy. VPN Venezuela users, for instance, know that a lot of websites in their country are not available through their usual Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Also, those that are can often be supervised by either the government or larger companies that want to collect data.
In these cases, you will not only use a VPN to mask your IP and prevent anyone from collecting your data but will also need it for more mundane reasons. If you want to unblock Facebook in countries like Bangladesh or China, you will also need a VPN.
Finally, you will need to maintain your cybersecurity and practice cyber hygiene. All of your security protocols need to be up to date, your VPN needs to have a kill-switch enabled, and your anti-virus needs to be on.
As far as cyber hygiene goes, you need to know where all your confidential files are. Storing on external hard drives is always the best option. If you are unable to store externally, simply knowing how not to leave your data around should be enough.
Protection at Work
Protecting your WiFi network, and thereby, your data needs to be more extensive if you own a business. Not only will you have delicate company files stored on your computers, but there will also be random personal data belonging both to you and any employees you might have.
Even if company policy forbids the use of office devices for personal communication, people’s phones will still be connected to the same Internet.
A premium VPN with encoded WiFi security is essential in this case, as this will be your first line of defense. Ideally, this VPN will be serially connected to the main server of the company, through which all other devices will connect. This way, you will also be able to grant different access to files for different people, reducing the chance for human error.
Finally, regular maintenance is necessary for a company. All of the essential data needs to be overlooked and adequately stored. Non-essential data should be either scrubbed from the devices or stored to drives that are not connected and can’t be accessed online.
Protect Yourself When Traveling
Traveling and using public connections is the only situation where a VPN isn’t the first line of defense. When you are traveling, either for business or vacation, your common sense will be as important as the VPN tunnel.
WiFi security at airports and train stations is exceptionally poor, and you will need to compensate for that yourself. Ideally, the cell phone or tablet you will be using when traveling will not be your primary device. This will make sure that your credit card details, security information, or other delicate data is not under attack.
Connecting to a public WiFi with a good VPN connection will save your device. But, it will all be for naught if you give your data the ‘’free WiFi” service willingly.
Also, you need to keep your NFC and Wireless options on your smartphone off when you are not using them. In recent years there were a lot of swiping scenarios where digital pickpockets stole people’s data.
Risks of Using Wireless Networks
The main risk of using wireless networks is the possibility of that connection being intercepted, and that is the main focus of WiFi security. This intrusion can happen at three points, and your entire cybersecurity system should be made to protect your data and devices.
The first point is your device. Either by malware or using direct hacks, someone can take control over your device and basically send themselves all the data they need.
The second point is the home router. When it comes to public connections, this router is usually spoofed by seeming like the correct one while actually being used to collect private data and passwords.
Finally, there is the ISP router or server. While criminals and identity thieves rarely hack this point, it may be under the supervision of governments and large corporation, not to mention the ISP itself. Even though Google censorship and data collection are yet to be proven on a larger scale, there is no need for you to expose yourself in this way.
Regardless if you are monitored by the NSA or by some guy in Macao hacking your network, the result is the same; your data is available to someone other than you.
Traditional Online Risks
Even when discussing WiFi security, we need to recognize the traditional risks that lurk online. These are only amplified by various wireless connections and modified routers that will forward us to websites and services, even against our will.
The most common online risks today are viruses, malware, and spyware. To try to mitigate the risk of being infected, we need good maintenance and oversight as well as a premium VPN and anti-virus software. You should clean your devices and change your passwords relatively often.
Additionally, it is a good idea to have a separate credit or debit card that you use for online purchases, especially when it comes to buying from unknown and untrusted sources.
Hacks and Intrusions
The most common attack when it comes to WiFi systems is the MITM, or Man In The Middle, attack. This is when a hacker intercedes between your device and the WiFi router you are trying to connect to.
Thankfully, all intrusions can be prevented by using a VPN. Premium providers like Le VPN use military-grade encryption to protect the VPN tunnel. And while this will not prevent the MITM attacker from collecting the data, it will make the data scrambled and impossible to read.
Snooping and Data Harvest
While a VPN can protect you from unwanted and forcible data harvests, they will not protect you from flukes made by carelessness.
When you are browsing social media or chatting with anyone online, make sure never to give your private information, even if it is with a friend. Unless you can be 100% certain who is on the other side of the connection, meaning that it is a P2P encrypted exchange with a person you know well, you should not even provide general private data.
Even if you are applying for a job and sending your resume, you should never provide your private email or your home address. There is no reason for a future employer to have that information, and it may be a scam.
Having good WiFi security is essential if you want to use your devices and surf the Internet safely. But, relying only on software tools to make yourself safe is not enough. You should employ some tactics and even potentially modify your behavior as to leave around as little personal information as possible.
If you have a premium VPN provider like Le VPN, your devices will be safe from unwanted intrusions, and your WiFi connection will be encrypted against anyone snooping. But you will still need to be careful when it comes to sending your data over the Internet in plain text.
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