5 Tips for Better Wi-Fi Security

Both the internet and the World Wide Web have become extremely popular over the last decade. These technologies have replaced various forms of media and changed the way we find local and national news, sporting events, general information and much more. Being in great demand, several home users not only struggle for time on the computer but the internet as well.

Many software and hardware vendors have provided various solutions that enable home users to share a single internet connection between two or more computers. These solutions all have one thing a common - technology that networks the machines.

In general, some type of physical medium is required in order to interconnect computers. This could be phone wires or coaxial cables. More recently, hardware has been introduced that allows home users to network their machines with electrical wiring. While all will get the job done, one of the most convenient ways to network the computers in your home is to apply wireless technology.

The Ease of Wi-Fi -- and the Security Flaws

Implementing wireless technology is fairly easy. The online connection comes from your ISP (Internet Service Provider) which connects to a wireless access point to broadcast a signal. Wireless network cards are connected to your machines to receive signals and communicate with the wireless access point.

While the signal enables access, it also poses a potential security risk. Effectively controlling where the signal travels is difficult. If it is capable of reaching the computer upstairs or the one in your basement, it can also travel the same length or further outside of your home. This could be to the neighbor's home next door or even worse, to a hacker seeking unsecured wireless connections from the car parked outside.

Improving Your Wi-Fi Security

Wireless networks are vulnerable to exploits, but that's no reason not to use them. Instead you should remain aware and take a few simple security measures to keep intruders out of your network and away from your personal information. Below we have provided a few essential tips that will enable you and all computer users in your home to securely share a wireless internet connection:

Disable Identifier Broadcasting - Openly announcing your wireless connection is just like inviting hackers into the network. Refer to your hardware manual and learn how to disable the Identifier Broadcasting feature on your router.

Enable Encryption - WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) and WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) are two security mechanisms that encrypt your data in way that it is only readable by intended recipients. However, WEP is quite vulnerable to exploits and is no longer recommended. WPA was designed to address the flaws in WEP and most hardware can be upgraded to support it.

Restrict Network Traffic - Most wireless and wired routers come with built-in firewall components. These firewalls aren't the most sophisticated, but will create another line of defense for your network as they can be configured to only allow incoming and outgoing traffic of your choice.

Change the Default Administrative password - The use of default passwords in not solid security as they are easily obtained by intruders. Be sure to change the password on your wireless access point or router to something that cannot be easily guessed.

Updates and Patches - Last but not least, it's critical to install additional security mechanisms such as personal firewall applications and anti-virus software. Since malicious hackers and malware evolve on a daily basis, it is important to keep these programs fresh with latest updates from the vendors database. Further more, you can update your operating system by allowing a vendor such as Microsoft to keep it current with the latest patches for all known vulnerabilities.

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Identity theft comes in many forms.

A person\92s identity can be 'borrowed' for the purpose of creating fictional credit cards or a person\92s entire identity can be usurped to the point where they can have difficulty proving that they really are who they claim to be.

Up to 18% of identity theft victims take as long as four years to realize that their identity has been stolen.

There are many ways to protect your personal identity and many steps you can take to prevent your identity from being stolen:

*Never give out unnecessary personal information
*Never provide bank details or social security numbers over the Internet
*Always remain aware of who is standing behind you when you type in your personal credit codes at ATM machines and at supermarket checkout swipe machines.