Isn’t life grand? Most everyone is somehow able to move into this new century with technology sitting in their laps… It’s a new found crush for misunderstanding simple things. What I mean by that is when you were little, one touch told you not to paw at the stove. As a teenager, one car accident may have put seat belts on your mind. Now you have a wireless network at home! What will it take to consider networking safely?
Think of all the strange and forgotten information in your computer – some of it, not surprisingly, you’ve forgotten about. Sure you delete your cookies and wipe the Internet History clean from time to time. You ask your computer not to remember passwords too, but you’re still a target in two possible ways that are as easy to fix as not touching hot things and putting on a seat belt.
Briefly, wireless networks consist of three things: The signals, the broadcaster and the receiver. Your Internet connection is the signal. Your modem feeds into the router which acts as the broadcaster. The network adapter in your computer is then the receiver. With those items, you can surf the Internet without inhibitions; and with no passwords or hurdles for novice hackers to stumble on, they can surf your computer without inhibition.
The open door, even for modest hackers, is that broadcaster. It says, “here I am!” Your receiver is tuned in to it. Other receivers can be tuned in to it from beyond your walls. Once on the same router, they can query for other computers (that’s YOU) on that router. Your defense is simple but certainly not fool-proof for real professional cyber evil-doers. When you set up your wireless network, 9 times out of 10, you’re asked to create a password so that users may sign on – it’s often called a WEP.
This is not a busy-task to waste your time. If a casual user with an infected computer shares your router, your computer too will share in the joy of infection with zero hacking required on the part of the casual user. They were just looking for a free ride that you offered by NOT creating that WEP. You don’t need a hard word but definitely don’t use an easy word that creates the ‘key’…
The computers in the router and in your lap will most likely do the rest. This is a one-time procedure UNLESS your router is reset. To reset the router is to force it to forget everything it knew. All your Internet Settings and magic high speed Internet access numbers will have to be re-entered. A router is reset internally or externally by pushing a button generally on the back. It’s labeled too.
Internal settings can be accessed by entering the IP of the gateway which will soon be common knowledge. If you’ve not placed a password there, anyone can change anything – especially that computer-savvy kid coming home from school who always messes your stuff up as a thank you for room and board. Change the default password to avoid the thanks. And in extreme cases, you can physically HIDE the router to keep that reset button from being pushed thereby defeating all your modest counter measures!
The strongest reason to employ any simple safety here is to eliminate neighborly free-rides from machines that may be infected. Like buckling up, ten seconds setting a router with passwords can save you a lot of grief.