Protect Your Privacy on Wireless Networks
Going wireless provides you with freedom to use your computer in multiple locations, without dragging cables and cords with you. However, the privilege of increased freedom comes with the danger of increased vulnerability. Wireless Internet requires that you have access to a wireless network via a wireless router. It is important that you secure your network so that strangers can’t use your network without your knowledge (also known as “piggybacking”). In addition, computer hackers could use your network to access personal information you save on or send from your computer. This is particularly important if you conduct financial transactions online. These reasons highlight the importance of taking steps to secure your wireless network. If you use the wireless (“Wi-Fi”) network at bookstores, airports, coffee shops or other public places, there are other precautions you should take to protect your privacy.
- Turn on encryption. When you buy a wireless router, it is important to turn on the encryption feature. This scrambles information that you send over the Internet so that other people cannot access it.
- Rename your router. Change the name from the default to something only you would know.
- Change the password. Routers come with a standard password. Create a new smart password with a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Turn off your router when you are not using it.
On public wireless networks:
- Don’t assume that the network is secure. Most public wireless networks don’t encrypt information you send. Avoid sending private information from public locations. Or consider using a virtual private network (VPN) to secure information you send via public networks.
- Use encrypted websites. If you must send sensitive from a public network, make certain that URL starts with “https” (“s” means secure). Look for that on every page you visit.
- Log out of sites after you finish using them rather than using “remember me” features. It is better to deal with the hassle of logging in again than giving away your login credentials to someone else on the network.
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