WiFi is everywhere these days, and most homes and small businesses have wireless as part of their network. Unfortunately, it seems many are putting themselves at risk for the convenience of wireless.

One of the big things I’ve noticed is the tendency to use default router settings. For newer routers that’s probably ok but for older ones it can be a disaster! In one case, a friend had their older router configured with the default WEP security even though the better WPA was available. This default setting doesn’t make any sense these days and didn’t even make much sense when the router was made. I expect the manufacturer was thinking more about their bottom line instead of the consumer’s security. As a result, they chose WEP to minimize service calls and returns from people whose WEP only devices couldn’t connect with a default of WPA! So if your router is more than a few years old, be sure to check the settings. If it’s configured for WEP then switch it to WPA or WPA2. If there isn’t an option for WPA or WPA2 then turn off WiFi altogether or get new router.

I’ve also noticed is that even if WPA or WPA2 is enabled users often select very weak passwords. I actually saw one case where the WPA password at a business establishment was identical to the SSID. Let’s face it folks, if you’re going to use a password that easy to guess you might as well put up a neon sign “DOOR OPEN, PLEASE ROB ME!”.

In addition to setting a wireless password you also need to configure an administrator password on the router. I know for a fact that many people out of ignorance or ambivalence have their router setup with the default password. This is a very bad idea because the default passwords for most routers are known and readily available on Internet. If you don’t believe me, just google the terms “default router password” and you’ll see what I mean.  It only takes a few minutes to set an administrator password but it can help prevent others from changing your router settings and potentially opening up your firewall to further outside attacks.

Probably the most important tip regarding WiFi is this. If you don’t need it, turn it off! If you can live with wires, you are better off with a wired connection. Wired connections are faster and without wireless you’ve closed down a potential avenue hackers use to attack you.