Monthly Archives: December 2016

How To Secure Your WiFi Network

Though routers come with their own security features, it is not impossible to hack into others’ routers. Once someone gains access to someone else’s wireless router, he or she can not only use their bandwidth but also gain access to the computers in the network, especially if it is a home network. Worst of all, they can use your WiFi for illegal purposes. There are some simple steps to secure your WiFi. We will also talk about a tool that lets you check who all are connected to your WiFi connection.

How to Secure your WiFi
The first thing someone encounters when he or she tries to log into your router is the router ID and password. You have to set it to something good. A random string would be good. Hard passwords are easy to create but tough to remember. You can use a password manager to generate a passcode for you, or you can create one on your own. If you are using a password manager, it would automatically fill in the credentials you need to enter the router page. The following explains how to change your router ID and password.

Change Password of Your Router
To log into your router, you need your router’s configuration pages. You have to type its IP address into a browser. The IP of the router is in most cases. If you cannot get into the router page using that IP, open command prompt window and type ipconfig /all. Note down the IP address of the Gateway. Try typing in that address into the address bar of your browser. If that too does not work, call up your router’s customer care after checking your router manual to see if the address is mentioned there.

To change the password and ID of your router, you have to log in to your router. The default ID is admin on routers of many companies. The default password is blank. If it is not blank, it could be 1234 or 0000 as in the case of cellphones. It might also be password. Try using these passwords, including the blank one before calling up the router company’s customer care. You can also look into the router manual to see if the passcodes and ID are mentioned there.

WPA2 protocol
What kind of security do you have on your network at home? Look at your Wi-Fi settings. It could be unsecured or secured with WEP, WPA or WPA2. WPA is better than WEP, but WPA2 is best. Change your network security settings to WPA2.

Other Steps To Safeguard Your WiFi
Another password is required to connect to your router’s wireless connection. This is found under the Wireless (or relevant tab) of your router’s page in the browser. Make it strict too: non-guessable, a little long and include special characters. This is the password you enter after selecting a network under List of available wireless networks. Some people make it very easy to crack these passwords. I remember one neighbor having his name as SSID and his profession as his password. Don’t ever do that. Create a tough password and store it on something like your phone or Google Keep, etc.

While you are still on the router’s page in your browser, check its encryption type. If not already, select WPA2. Some other options show a combination of encryption methods. If WPA2 is not available separately, select WPA2-PSK. Save the configuration and log into your wireless connection to see if it is working. If not, downgrade the encryption type to WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK. That should solve the problem. Do not go for WEP as it is not very protective.

Who Is On My WiFi
Though you can check it through Computer window, we recommend using a free tool that not only tells you how many computers are connected but also gives you the power to block unknown computers. Download freeware Who is on My WiFi from here and install it. This tool, like Wireless Network Watcher and Zamzom Wireless Network Tool, will show you who all are using your WiFi. The free version of Who Is On My WiFi is enough to know what all computers are connected to your WiFi and to block unknown computers.

The first time you run “Who is on My WiFi”, it scans the network for all the computers connected and provides you with many details including their last IP address and MAC IDs. This is important as you can verify if all computers are yours – using the MAC ID of each machine.

NOTE: The Scan Now button is in the main window of the software while the startup wizard simply says top right corner. Do not get confused; check the top right corner of the program window.

Tips to Fix Public and Home Wi-Fi Network Vulnerabilities

Most of us have almost discarded network cables and rely on wireless for connecting to other computers as well as to the Internet. The wired Internet is more secure as it reduces the chances of hackers snooping in. But wireless travels in all directions (even if you use unidirectional antennas, they branch out after a certain length). Cybercriminals can easily hack into these signals and know what you are doing. They steal your data and use it for own purposes. We have talked about problems of public WiFi as well as dangers of using wireless Internet in the past. This post once again reminds you that you need to take certain steps on both home and public networks to stay secure when using WiFi.

Vulnerabilities in Public Wi-Fi
Most of the public places now offer free WiFi as part of providing you with better experience. Even the railway is now giving public WiFi for free when you are on long distance trains, not to mentions airports, hotel lounges, cafes and more. We had earlier posted about dangers of public WiFi. Let’s be more specific here about vulnerabilities of Public WiFi.

First of all, it is very easier to get your login credentials when on a public WiFi. There are devices available that can tell the IP addresses of computers in the range using the same public WiFi and from there, cybercriminals can carry out their operations to know what are the different users of the WiFi doing.

Not all the public WiFi use encryption and even if they use one, they use a weaker encryption so that all types of devices can work on the WiFi. The cybercriminals just need to be in the range of public WiFi – may be directly logged in or might be using some hacking device that shows what all is happening on the network. If a webpage employs simple text method for login, the password and ID are sent in plain text that can be easily accessed by cybercriminals.

Fix Public WiFi Vulnerabilities
There is not much you can do to fix Public WiFi vulnerabilities. Just make sure File and Printer sharing is turned off. Right click on the Internet icon in System Tray and click on Open Network and Sharing settings. From there, go to Advanced Sharing settings and turn off File and printer sharing.

Among other precautions,

Never use Public WiFi for working on confidential information
If you have to use a website that needs information about you or your credit card, try using a VPN service to encrypt the data packets; there are many free VPN services (and I prefer SpotFlux)
Home Wi-Fi Vulnerabilities
We tend to feel safer when using WiFi at home, but they too are vulnerable to brute force attacks and other forms of hacking. Among the foremost precautions you should take to fix Home WiFi vulnerabilities is to turn off WPS (WiFi Protected Setup).

Though the WPS is considered a security feature, experts urge users to turn it off as it can easily compromise your router to external attacks. You will have to open router page and make changes there as an administer. The method to turn off WPS is different for different models of routers so you’ll have to check with your manufacturer’s website. However, if you are good at troubleshooting, you can locate the option simply by browsing through existing tabs etc in the router page.

It goes without saying that the WiFi password should be strong enough. Try to use strong passwords (if you feel you will forget it, you can note it down and keep it in your purse or somewhere). Random strings of characters are best.

Finally, check to see if the security protocol being used for handshake is WPA2. Some routers provide it as WPA/WPA2. This option too is available in router configuration page.

If you are using Windows 10, turn off WiFi Sense so that your computer is not compromised by one of people sharing your Internet connect.

This intends to serve as a general guide to Public and Home WiFi Vulnerabilities and how to fix them. Know that even with all precautions we take, there are still vulnerabilities with WiFi (or even with wired connections) but if you take the precautions, chances of you getting hacked will reduce.

Information About WiFi safe for your health, children and at home

Security lock with privacy message on white computer keyboard – information privacy concept

I need not tell you how WiFi works. You know that WiFi signals start from the router and end up at the reception point of your WiFi enabled device. It’s the same case with Bluetooth, cellphones, etc. However, unlike cellphones and Bluetooth, WiFi signals do not accumulate at a certain part of your body. Incase of cellphones, it is the ear where you place the phone, and it is always either right or left – which is repeated per call. The more you talk, the more exposure at a certain point of your brain.

The point here is, WiFi is radio waves that may cause problems, but since there is no fixed point of your body, touching the devices all the time, the risk is quite low. If you carry your smartphone to your bed and keep it near your head at night, it may create problems due to cellular signals. But when there is some distance between your body and device, the risk becomes lesser.

Dangers and Health Hazards Of WiFi Signals
I will not say WiFi is completely safe, as it does employ harmful radio waves. But it is safer compared to cellphone signals that are more powerful and tend to affect the same body part again and again. Science has conducted several researches on WiFi waves and concluded that WiFi waves may potentially cause cancer. In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified WiFi as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.

There are certain factors that make it dangerous and it is not easy to get out of the RF signal range. As said earlier, WiFi signals are everywhere. If you switched off your WiFi at night, you are still exposed to the WiFi signals coming in from neighbors. To see how many such networks are active just click on the connectivity icon in the system taskbar. The more the networks, the more vulnerable you are.

Kids are at greater risk of possessing mental (brain) disorders as they grow up in WiFi environment. You can reduce the risk by turning off your WiFi at nights and by discouraging kids from clinging to the device for long durations. Make sure that they do not take it to bed. You also educate them that the waves are harmful so keep devices as far as possible (from the body).

WiFi safety tips
There is little you can do to keep yourself safe from the WiFi signals. As mentioned above, even if you close down your WiFi system, you are still exposed to those, coming from neighboring houses. The only solace here is that, since WiFi signals are coming from a longer distance, their effect would be lesser – just as the FM waves which aren’t that harmful.

I will not ask you to go wired even though it is safer than WiFi. Rather, try to keep away from the WiFi originating points and repeaters where the signals are strong enough to damage your brain over an extended period of time. If possible turn off your WiFi at nights or when you are not using them for longer durations.

Another important thing is to reduce the duration you use WiFi. Your own WiFi is stronger in your home compared to the WiFi networks around your building. Make sure you are not spending time on the same table where the router is installed. Do not sit under repeaters for long. On devices, turn off WiFi when not using it. It will not only reduce exposure, but it will save your battery also.