Friday 14 November 2008

Reason to Secure your Home WiFi

Just the other week I saw “Which? Computing” report which highlighted complaints against video games companies who were going around accusing innocent of people of being file-sharing pirates. In one case Atari accused a couple in Scotland of file sharing the game Race07. The couple were aged 54 and 66, and unsurprisingly had never played a computer game in their entire life, yet they received a threatening letter care of Atari’s lawyers, instructing them to pay a £500 fine or face court action.
In due course the fine and case was rightly dropped, however there were 70 other similar cases dropped, often involving senior citizens who have never heard of peer-to-peer file sharing.
But what caught my attention was the law firm’s response in making these accusations, according to Michael Coyle, an intellectual property solicitor with law firm Lawdit, “more and more people are being wrongly identified as file-sharers. Most commonly problems arise when a pirate steals someone else's network connection by "piggybacking" on their unsecured wireless network” While prosecutors argue that users are legally required to secure their network, Mr Coyle dismisses this. "There is no section of the Copyright Act which makes you secure your network although it is commonsense to do so" he said.
For some time now I have been warning home users about the consequences of not securing their home WiFi properly, or even purposely sharing WiFi Internet access with anyone in range. In this case it was a computer game being shared without the WiFi network owners knowledge, which resulted in a scary letter from a law firm. But what if their neighbours or a complete stranger was using the Internet connection to file sharing illegal pornography, it would probably result in a knock on the door by the police, subsequent removal of all computer equipment from the address and an arrest. Interestingly the lawyers were certainly thinking about blaming the wifi networks owner, I wonder if the network was intentionally by the owner shared whether they could be found liable, regardless of that I don't think it's the smartest move to purposely share your home WiFi network outside your home..
Opening wireless network access up or not ensuring the WiFi is properly secured, opens up many other concerns. For one it’s possible for someone to listen in (snoop) your Internet traffic, learn what websites you visit and in some cases steal personal information. Unless you encrypt your Email, the bad guys can intercept and read your Email, and even adjust the Email contains without your knowledge. And by attacking the wireless router from inside WiFi network, they can even redirect you invisibly to fake websites. For instance it's possible to snoop which bank website you use, adjust the DNS on the wifi router, so the next time you visit your bank website have your computer sends you to fake bank site which has the correct URL in the address bar, in doing this the bad guys could harvest your bank account website logon credentials without your knowledge.
All food for though, whether stealing your personal information, or your neighbours are committing file sharing piracy or worst, you should make sure your home WiFi is secured for just your own usage, and avoid all the inconvenience and hassle.


Anonymous said...

Can someone please explain in simple terms how I secure my home wi fi? I am not very techy and have no idea how to do it.

SecurityExpert said...

The easy answer to speak with a techie in the know and have them help you, as there is no getting round it, home wifi configuration can be complicated business for the non-techie, a process further complicated by different broadband providers who offer terrible support services and different wifi hardware, which why it's difficult to find specific secure wifi step-by-step guides.

The best non-techie advice I can give is; look out for and select "WPA2-PSK" encryption, set a 12 charactor complicated password/passphrase, and finally give an your wifi network broadbcast name (known as an SSID) a complicated a random jumble of charactors as as name. Do those things, and your WiFi broadband will be highly secure.

write an essay said...

Nice post. Thanks a lot for it!

swetha said...

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