WiFi Security Risks Explained
In 2020, the average US household had ten devices connected to the Internet. And, the Internet of Things (IoT) devices market will only continue to grow exponentially.
With so many devices connected to the Internet, it's time to get more serious about WiFi security risks. This article will break down common risk vulnerabilities and guide you to keep your wireless networks safe.
Common WiFi Security Risks
Using public or unsecured WiFi leads to several network vulnerabilities that you may experience. A standard risk is piggybacking.
Piggybacking is when unintended users access your Internet connection, such as neighbors. These users can conduct illegal activity, monitor and capture your web traffic, or steal personal information.
Wardriving is a form of piggybacking. It happens when someone drives around in a vehicle looking for vulnerable networks. Then, they create a digital map called access point mapping to exploit the networks further.
An evil twin attack is when an adversary collects information about a public network access point. Then, they create an impersonation of it. The adversary creates a more robust broadcasting system, so users connect to the attacker's system rather than the public system. The attacker can easily steal personal information, including:
Attackers can also use sniffing tools and file-sharing on public networks that aren't encrypted to collect this information. So make sure to turn off file-sharing to avoid these WiFi security risks. It would help if you also disabled WiFi and Bluetooth connections when you're not using them to prevent unwanted prowlers.
Further, be aware of shoulder surfing and theft. One of the easiest ways attackers get someone's information is by looking over their shoulder and spying or stealing devices. Thus, be aware of your surroundings when in public. Also, fully encrypt the stored data on your devices in case of theft.
Malware and Ransomware
By now, most people are familiar with phishing emails that spread malware. Yet, attackers can use an unsecured WiFi connection to distribute malware and ransomware to your computer. It can disrupt, damage, or gain access to your computer system.
At home or work, you probably have an anti-malware system. But in public, there is no protection. Attackers can silently download malicious software onto your device.
How to Increase Network Security
You may be familiar with some common WiFi encryption tools like:
Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) uses secret keys to encrypt data. It's the oldest security protocol for WiFi. Some old networks still use WEP security, but there are better alternatives. You must upgrade any system still using WEP because it's no longer secure.
WiFi Protected Setup (WPS) helps home users secure their WiFi network with minimal effort. Usually, there is a WPS button on the router to press, which activates it. Activating WPS allows you to pair devices to the router, similar to Bluetooth pairing.
However, WPS is not compatible with WEB because of WPA. In addition, WPS is insecure and not recommended by some cybersecurity experts. You can disable WPS in the wireless configuration options or advanced settings of the router.
WiFi Protected Access (WPA) is an upgrade to WEP. The WiFi Alliance introduced WPA in 2003. It has two protocols: pre-shared key (WPA-PSK) and Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (WPA-TKIP). The latter is more secure. Most routers have a WPA setup.
WPA2 is a newer version with a higher level of security. WPA2 uses Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and longer passwords. Over time, cybersecurity experts also found security problems with WPA2, such as the four-way handshake.
Anyone in range of a device connected to the network can record the handshake and easily crack it.
In 2018 the Alliance launched WPA3. While WPA3 addresses some of WPA2's shortcomings, experts also found vulnerabilities. But for now, it's the best security users have to protect their wireless networks.
Although these encryption methods have flaws, some safety against WiFi security risks is better than none.
Added Security Measures
Aside from using WiFi encryption tools, there are several other measures you can take to protect yourself. While you should avoid using public and unsecured WiFi, it's not always possible.
Use HTTPS-enabled websites. These websites block intrusive attackers from tampering with the connection between websites. After use, ensure you log out of all your accounts.
In addition, you can use a virtual private network (VPN) when accessing a public or unsecured network. VPNs encrypt transmission at the start and endpoints. Thus, they keep out unidentified traffic.
Always change default passwords. Personalized passwords work best. Changing passwords often helps keep the network and your devices safe.
Plus, it would be best if you restricted network access. Only allow authorized users to access your network.
In the office, separate WiFi networks. For example, you can have one network for staff and another for guests. This will restrict unwanted access to business data and prevent unauthorized users from penetrating the network.
To go a step further, eliminate in-office WiFi. Instead, you can build a private-in-building wireless system. It's the most secure and efficient. But, of course, you could still have another network for guests to use.
Make sure to install a firewall directly on your wireless devices and home network. A host-based firewall will protect wireless devices, and a router- or modem-based firewall will protect the network. Moreover, install antivirus software on your devices.
WiFi security risks are prevalent anytime you connect to a wireless network. If you're accessing a public or unsecured network, take measures to keep yourself safe. At home, make sure you're using network security tools to keep your router free from attack.
To find the right solution for your WiFi network, reach out to us at SecPoint. Our cybersecurity experts are ready to help with your personal and business protection needs.