Free Wi-Fi Hotspots – A Risky Luxury

The wireless revolution has turned internet access into a basic necessity. Social media networking and entertainment on-the-go are in high demand. In this reality, Wi-Fi hotspots are seen as blessings, even when the signal is coming from an unknown source. But this is a huge security risk that people rarely take into consideration.

The habit of searching for free wireless hotspots is very common amongst youngsters, businessmen with laptops and even casual tablet-users at home. The risk of getting hacked is very high once the attacker is locked onto your system. Unfortunately, most people can’t resist the urge to use unknown networks and sacrifice security.

Wireless Network Analyzers, available via multiple software vendors in the market, can easily trap Wi-Fi signals. Also known as 802.11 packets, these signals simply appear on the hacker’s laptop screen in real time. Passwords, personal information and instant messaging conversations can be easily intercepted.

Advanced hackers can take it one step ahead with the private information they trap during your Wi-Fi sessions. They can use sophisticated software to take control of your device remotely, install malware and eventually compromise your entire network. This can lead to serious security breaches in businesses and organizations.

Firewalls are a safety precaution all must implement on their laptops and mobile devices. Windows and Mac have built-in firewall features, but it’s always recommended to install good third party software. File Sharing should be off at all times and only secure websites should be trusted during important browsing sessions.

Your private LAN network is also highly vulnerable due to poor built-in encryption standards. Here are a few tips to secure your Wi-Fi network:

  • Every wireless LAN comes with a Service Set Identifier (SSID). It’s very important to change the SSID from its factory setting and also turn off SSID broadcasting.
  • Even people with strong passwords are advised to change their network access parameters every few months to keep the hackers at bay.
  • Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks exploit inadequate bandwidth allocations on wireless LAN’s. Administrators must ensure proper bandwidth distribution to provide fair access.

The wireless technology revolution has changed our lifestyles drastically. But one must not ignore the huge security risks and vulnerabilities that come with this technological luxury. Until the wireless security standards reach adequate levels, it’s highly recommended you employ safe wireless web and computing practices.

Source – Top 10 Vulnerabilities In Today’s Wi-Fi Networks

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Sharon Solomon

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