Lock Down Your Wi-Fi or the FBI Might Come Knocking

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Found This article on Yahoo, Posted it to BBUS Blog (BBUS Blog Article Link) and figured it would be a good article to post here:

Article Via Yahoo

Equally Important in the article, is the information below: I am not sure how many of you may have an "Unsecured Wireless Network" but it is important to lock your network down to avoid snoopers, or leeches that can use the connection for immoral or unethical purposes. The FBI could arrect you or confiscate any computers connected to your network due to anyone leeching off your connection. While in training at Geeks to Go, I learned that even if the network is "unsecured" it is still considered stealing internet, even if the owner of the connection is unaware of the fact that the conenction is NOT locked down.

For this reason, I ALWAYS let my clients know that if they have a wireless connection, to use the latest protocols available for security, and to make sure that the connection is LOCKED with a security key. If they do not know what that is, I will do it for them, and explain what I am doing and why - It is easier to take the extra 10-20 minutes of time to check the security setup, rather then to see a problem later because someone did NOT set up thier connection securely.

The article also points out that router manufactrers seem to be of the mindset that the "easy way is the only way", meaning that they work "out of the box" without much security in place. Routers like this make them harder to secure because they don't have the security to protect the user, or the advanced configurations needed to open ports for gaming or Internet services. I have even dealt with Verizon and Fairpoint and when you have to be able to open some ports or make changes to the configurations, either the router supports them, and they are hard to locate, or they don't support some configurations at all. Equally frustrating is the fact that the vendors (Verizon/Fairpoint in my example) do NOT support the modem's advanced features (westell 7500. etc versalink gateway), there is NO update page for firmware or other updates, and you have to hunt for the user manual to be able to conigure the router - and even that is hit or miss.

The "Easy Way" is NOT necessarily the right way or the safe way to go - You have to be able to configure the router you get, and you have to be able to update it and get relevant information that makes sense - or the router is not easy tro work with. Consumers have to be aware of the dangers of leaving thier wireless connections open to everyone, and hence this article is a good start.

It is important that you lock your wireless network down. WEP (wired equivalent privacy) encryption has as many holes as Swiss cheese, and can be easily cracked in a matter of seconds, but even turning on such weak protection is better than nothing. If you scan any given neighborhood for wireless networks, you will find at least one that has no encryption turned on, and that low-hanging fruit is the network that will draw attention rather than a network that requires hacking to connect to.

But, to provide better security you should use WPA or WPA-2 encryption. With most home and SOHO (small office / home office) wireless routers, it is as simple as logging in to the Admin console, enabling the encryption, and setting a password. However, as this recent incident demonstrates, "simple" is relative, and enabling wireless encryption is easier said than done for many users.

The real answer, though, lies with the wireless router vendors. Unfortunately, convenience and simplicity trump security. Wi-Fi routers are designed to just work right out of the box. They live up to the claims in most cases--as long as your only concern is being able to connect to the wireless network and start surfing the Internet. But, if you also want your wireless network to be secure, they don't work so well out of the box after all.

Users who are not tech savvy, and want the convenience of a wireless router that "just works" are not likely to invest the time and effort to learn about the inner-workings of the router, or to understand and enable the security features. Wireless routers should be designed with encryption enabled by default, and part of the initial configuration should involve stepping the user through the process of establishing a unique SSID, and setting a secure password.

For now, though, that ball is in your court. Do yourself a favor and take the 15 minutes to figure out how to log into the admin console for your Wi-Fi router and turn on encryption to prevent unauthorized piggy-backing. If you don't, the next knock on your door might be the FBI--and they might not be there for pleasant chit-cha

This is why I keep my network secure - There are only two other people who uses my network, and I gave them the access and watch it like a hawk :)


Edited by baker7
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