February Newsletter

February 2017

Hi everyone, welcome to the February 2017 newsletter.

In this newsletter I want to have a look at using Wifi securely and efficiently at work and home.

It wasn't that many years ago when our home and business computers had to be tethered to the internet by way of a cable plugged into the wall, and the very notion of being able to use one's phone to surf the internet seemed like science fiction.

We have come along way since then, but with all the buzz of this new found freedom of being able to use a laptop or tablet anywhere there is internet access, has often resulted in people and businesses neglecting to properly secure their network connections. One benefit of the NBN rollout across the nation, I have noticed, is that whereas once businesses and homes used any old router to connect to the ADSL or ADSL2+ Broadband internet, with the security features often being overlooked, the NBN compatible routers, however, all encrypt the network with the more secure WPA2.

Why you may ask, does that make a difference? Because with the older WEP Wifi encryption security, a decent hacker could break into that Wifi within minutes, and capture every bit of information you sent across the internet. Thankfully the old WEP is now obsolete, and today's routers provide the option of WPA or WPA2 encryption. This new form of encryption is, however, not totally secure. With the right knowledge and equipment it is stillpossible to break the encryption, but it takes along time, and is dependent upon the strength of the password used by the computer or mobile logged onto the Wifi network.

So, here's some simple tips to help make your business or home network more secure:

Have the best Wifi encryption on your router

Check your Wifi network connection with either your computer or your mobile. You will see the little symbol of the Wifi with its name next to it, and it should have a small padlock looking icon attached to it.

A more thorough way to check, is to log into your router using the browser (Firefox, Chrome, Edge, etc.) on your computer. You may have to find the old manual that came with it and the passwords to access it. Usually you can type into the URL section of the browser 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1 and the router webpage will open up. If you didn't change the default user name and password you can look it up onlineby doing a search for default passwords for your particular model and make of router, (often admin / password).

Once into the router, move to the Wireless tab and then the security section. There you will see what the security mode is set to: make sure it's set to WPA2.

Change the router's login details

If you can log into the router using something like admin / password, then move to the area of the router where you can change the login details. Often it will be in the Advanced section > Administration > Set password. Leaving the username as "admin" is acceptable, but make certain the password is sufficiently complex not to be guessed.

Change the Wifi pre-shared key

If you know that you connect to the Wifi by using a simple password (pre-shared key) like 12345 or your family name etc, then while in that Wifi security section of the router, change the pre-shared key to something stronger with both numbers, letters and symbols in it. This will make it more difficult for a hacker to guess.

Your SSID

What is your SSID? It's the Service Set Identifier for the Wifi being broadcast around the house or office so that people can recognise it as belonging to that location. By default the SSID will show up on the possible networks to connect to, as the name of the router being used e.g. D-Link or Netgear. Most of the time this is fine, but if you have left the username and password for the router as the factory defaults, than anyone can look them up online for that particular make and model of router.

Even though I have a more secure administration password than the default, I stillprefer to change it to something generic. If it's your a business, then use your business name (Target, BigW etc). If it's at home I suggest not using your family name (Smith's Wifi) because then you've provided more information to the criminal element. Try SSID names like "myplace" or "home" or even just "###"

Again, to change this, do so while in the router and looking at the Wireless section.

Well, that's all for this month on securing your business and home computer networks. If you have any questions, just send me an email.

Until next time, stay secure

Stephen Fugler