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Thursday, December 02, 2010

WIRELESS INTERNET (WIFI) SECURITY TIPS FOR WINDOWS

TOP 10 MUST-KNOW WIRELESS INTERNET (WIFI) SECURITY TIPS FOR WINDOWS
USERS

by Dennis Faas
Infopackets.com Senior Editor
http://www.infopackets.com

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About Infopackets and our Top 10 Tech Reports

Our Top 10 Tech Reports highlight The Best of The Best Q&A (questions
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English, and straight to the point instruction -- while featuring the
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This Free Report compliments an article recently published in on our
line newsletter, entitled:

Avoid 'Free Public WiFi' Network At All Costs

http://www.infopackets.com/news/security/2010/20101013_avoid_free_public_wifi_network_at_all_costs.htm

How secure is your wireless network? Are your neighbours eavesdropping
on your Internet connection (are you sure)? Have you ever used your
laptop or netbook to connect to an unknown network in order to get on
the Internet?

If you've answered "Yes" to any of these questions, you are putting
yourself at a huge security risk. So, what steps can you take to
better protect yourself, your personal information, and your PC?

Here's a list of 10 things you need to know about Wireless Internet
and Security when it comes to using your Windows PC:

1. Never, ever connect to an unencrypted, or unsecured network.

When viewing the list of available networks in MS Windows, encrypted
and secure networks have padlocks as their icon or will specifically
state "Secure" or "Unsecured". By connecting to an unsecured network,
it's possible for just about anyone (hackers included) to connect
directly to your computer and take your files, financial information,
sniff passwords, install a Trojan, or worse. The ability to do any of
the previously mentioned tasks depends on a number of factors: some of
which will be explained below.

2. Always use a software Firewall when connecting to any network
(wireless or wired).

In short, firewalls block non-legitimate outside traffic from getting
into your PC. Windows XP Service Pack 2, Windows Vista, and Windows 7
come pre-configured to use the Windows Firewall which is accessible
though the Control Panel and may or may not be turned on by default.
If you don't have a firewall, you can download one for free (for
personal use):

http://personalfirewall.comodo.com/

3. Turn off or disable your WiFi when you're not using it.

Disabling your WiFi may be as easy as flicking on / off a "WiFi"
switch on your laptop or netbook. If you can't find that switch, you
can disable wireless networks through the Windows Control Panel. To
find out how, search Google for "disable wireless network" plus
"windows xp" or whatever version of Windows you're using, for example.

4. Verify the the Network Name (SSID) you're connecting to.

Hackers can and will set up wireless hotspots alongside legitimate
WiFi networks to fool you into clicking on their rogue wireless
network. If you don't pay attention to which network you're connecting
to, you're essentially giving the malicious network (and anyone
connected to the malicious network) access to anything you transmit to
and from your PC.

As the Paul Kretkowski from DailyWireless.com put it: "At a recent
stay at a high-rise Chicago hotel, one colleague called the front desk
to figure out which of the dozens of available [WiFi] hotspots he
should use. It turned out that the hotel had a powerful hotspot
positioned on every floor -- but other WiFi signals emanated from
hotel guests' laptops and wireless routers." (Source:
http://www.dailywireless.com/features/surf-wireless-safely-051507/)

5. Disable Windows Print and File Sharing.

If your PC is set up to share files and you connect to an unsecured
network, anyone can get straight into your computer and obtain your
files. For more information, refer to this Microsoft Security
bulletin:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/199346

6. Keep your operating system (MS Windows) up to date. If you don't
keep your operating system up to date, your computer essentially has
gaping security holes that can allow anyone from the outside in and
with (most of the time) 100% administration rights to do what they
please.

In short, Vulnerabilities and exploits are used by hackers and
malicious websites, which can supersede the protection of a firewall
or antivirus / anti-malware protection. To avoid these pitfalls, you
must install updates regularly on your PC.

7. Install Windows XP SP3 if you haven't aleady.

Microsoft recommends that all Windows XP users should have at least
Windows Service Pack 3 installed when connecting to a WiFi network.
This is because older versions of the Windows XP operating system (OS)
will initialize an ad-hoc network with the same title as the last one
to which it made a successful connection. In this case, if the network
you tried to connect to was malicious, the name not only stays in the
list of available networks, but spreads every time a new person
connects to your PC.

8. Secure your own WiFi Network: using encryption.

If you're not using encryption on your own home connection, you're
allowing anyone and everyone in your area free access to your network
(and possibly files), plus your Internet access. For more information
on how to encrypt your wireless network, contact your Internet
provider.

9. Secure your own WiFi Network: using a strong password.

With respect to #8 above, use a strong security password when your
encrypting your network. If your network password is easy to guess,
almost anyone can get in.

10. Secure your own WiFi Network: by not broadcasting your SSID.

SSID stands for "Service Set Identifier," and is the name of your home
network (used by your router) which supplies the WiFi signal. If
outside people can't see your SSID, it lessens (but does not
completely limit) the chance that they can connect to your network.

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