Tips for Safe Wi-Fi Surfing
Public Wi-Fi networks are a significant risk for your Internet security. They are, in fact, a favourite place for hackers and crooks who try to steal passwords confidential and personal data when users are not careful enough. There are, however, ways to protect yourself when you connect to public Wi-Fi and here are the actions to take to have optimal security.
Whether from your cell phone or other multimedia equipment, you can easily access the Internet through a Wi-Fi connection. However, to ensure the protection of your data and your network, it is crucial to take care of Wi-Fi security.
Wi-Fi security: the name of the network
The Wi-Fi connection offered by a Wi-Fi router is usually configured by default. However, it is essential to change the default values to ensure maximum security. It is necessary to update the network name to do so. The name provided by default can give information about:
– the brand and model of the Wi-Fi router;
– the Internet Service Provider.
You can choose the network name you want.
To change the network name, you just have to go to the administration of your Wi-Fi router:
– either by typing its IP address in the bar of your browser;
– or by using the quick access icon in your network menu.
Note: don’t hesitate to disable the broadcasting of your network name.
Wi-Fi security: MAC address filtering
Each network card (internal card, Wi-Fi key or other) has its own physical address, called MAC address.
Most Wi-Fi routers allow you to manage the list of access rights according to MAC addresses. Only equipment with an authorized MAC address will be able to connect. This very restrictive security measure will force you to add to the list of authorized devices each new device you want to connect to Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi security keys
There are 2 main types of Wi-Fi security keys:
– WEP ;
A WEP key, Wired Equivalent Privacy, is a code that ensures the confidentiality of exchanges on a network. It must be declared at the access point and then entered on each device to connect to the Wi-Fi network. This type of security key can have a length of 64 or 128 bits.
Note: it is less and less used because of the ease with which potential intruders can decrypt it (less than a minute).
WPA, Wi-Fi Protected Access, offers greater security than WEP.
It is essential to differentiate between WPA based on TKIP encryption and its more advanced version based on AES encryption (often referred to as WPA 2). WPA 2 is tough to decrypt and offers good network security. This key is randomly generated.
Use secure SSL connections
Remember to check the “Always use HTTPS” box on websites that you visit frequently or where you have to type in a login and password. Your browser mustn’t go to unsecured sites where hackers can easily retrieve a lot of your data, starting with payment data.
Use a firewall and antivirus software.
Connecting to public Wi-Fi exposes your equipment to more significant vulnerabilities than connecting from home because you are sharing the network with unknown and possibly malicious people.
Antivirus software will protect you from virus attacks and especially from the installation of a possible Trojan horse that could later give unlimited access to your data or even take control of your machine. Therefore, it is essential to activate a firewall and antivirus software on your device. This reduces the chance of unauthorized access and malicious malware attempting to gain access to your computer or smartphone.
Disable sharing options
When connecting to a public Wi-Fi network in a restaurant, café or train station, for example, there is little chance that you will need to share your files and data with someone nearby. However, this authorized sharing feature is often automatically activated on your computer. This creates a vulnerability that hackers know how to use.
Therefore, it is essential to take the time to deactivate it if you have not already done so. To do this, go to your file-sharing settings and click on “Disable network discovery” and “Disable file and printer sharing”.
Enable two-factor authentication if available
Many applications such as Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and others offer a more secure identification system with two-factor authentication. This is often the case with the ability to enter a code received via text message on your phone or other methods that validate that you are attempting to log into your account.
This protection offers more security and is a great way to protect yourself from password theft on some accounts. It will be beneficial if it ever happens during an Internet session on a public Wi-Fi network.