Last Updated on Feb 23, 2024 by James W
The predecessor to modern WiFi connectivity was invented at the University of Hawaii. That product, labeled ALOHAnet, represented the first public demonstration of wireless packet data, which is the basis for WiFi.
Today, many individuals and families access the internet through high-speed networks. Home WiFi networks are certainly convenient, but is WiFi safe? In fact, there are a number of inherent weaknesses associated with WiFi networks that many people don’t know about. However, it is possible to enhance the security of home WiFi networks, maintaining the convenience while minimizing the risks.
Wireless Router Encryption Isn’t Automatic
There are two major types of WiFi encryption: WiFi Protected Access (WPA2) and Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). WPA2 is stronger, and therefore preferable. Computers, routers and any other appliances connected to the network must use the same encryption. What many people don’t know is that wireless router encryption is not automatic. With many wireless routers, encryption is turned off — buyers must activate encryption themselves. The instructions to turn on a wireless router’s encryption are often included. However, if that is not the case, these instructions are often readily available online.
Hackers May Secretly Control Your WiFi Network
Many WiFi routers have weak default usernames and passwords built in. Hackers and identity thieves have access to many default security profiles, and use this information to gain remote access to bank accounts or to infect a home network with malware. They may even change the username and password so that rightful users no longer has access to their own networks. Buyers should immediately change the administrative username and password to their home router, and share the information only with trusted family members.
Your Microwave Could Interfere with Your WiFi Network
WiFi signals are transmitted by radio waves. Laptop computers and other electronics that have WiFi capability have built in antennas that pick up signals transmitted by the router. Like all forms of electronics that use radio waves, WiFi is subject to interference by any substance that can conduct electricity. That includes the walls in a home and even the human body. Microwave ovens operate on 2.4 GHz frequency, and can interfere with WiFi routers in close proximity that operate on the same frequency. That’s why WiFi routers should not be place too close to other appliances or electronics.
Securing Your Home WiFi Network
The shortcomings associated with WiFi security can potentially leave users’ data vulnerable. Fortunately, securing WiFi networks is relatively easy. Changing the administrative username and password, plus turning on router security are just two safeguards that can enhance WiFi security.
Another simple strategy for enhancing WiFi network security include limiting access to specific devises that have a matching Media Access Control (MAC) address. However, it should be used in combination with other security enhancement features, not alone, because hackers can mimic legitimate MAC addresses.
Users should also turn off “remote management” features. This feature allows troubleshooting by manufacturers, but are often used by hackers to gain unauthorized access to home WiFi networks. Remote management access can be turned on manually for actual troubleshooting, and turned back off afterward.
The potential security shortfalls associated with WiFi networks should not discourage individuals and families from using them. There is no need to give up the convenience of being able to use a laptop or mobile device without any cords. In addition, by incorporating a few security safeguards, the risks of WiFi networks are greatly minimized.