In today’s increasingly connected society, wireless networks have become an expectation within homes and businesses. Wireless technologies in computers, printers, speakers, headphones and other devices allow users to complete tasks without being hindered by wires. Although convenient, these devices may turn into a security vulnerability when not secured properly.
Flawed and inexpensive wireless keyboards, for example, can leave consumers vulnerable to hackers. These keyboards may not use any encryption, allowing hackers to track keystrokes on these devices from at least 250 feet away. Fraudsters then have access to consumers’ passwords, credit card numbers and other confidential information.
In addition, wireless networks themselves can prove susceptible to hackers. Many companies distributing routers for wireless networks provide default settings so consumers can easily set up the technology. However, these default settings can provide fraudsters an easy “in” when trying to hack wireless networks.
Credit unions and consumers should follow these tips to improve wireless network security.
- Always reset default administrator passwords and usernames. The factory default username and password for most routers is publicly known and can be easily found through a web search.
- Always reset the Service Set Identifier (SSID) to a new name. Select a name that does not identify your family or business, as the SSID is visible to any wireless unit within range.
- Disable remote management of the router. Some wireless routers have a setting enabling a user to administer the router via a wireless connection. This means a user can access all of the router security settings without being connected to a mobile device. This should not be utilized, unless there truly is a need to change router settings from a remote location.
- If you’re away from your home or office for an extended time, turn the router off. Most wireless systems that were previously connected to the wireless network will be automatically reconnected after the router has been turned back on.
- Put the router in a central part of the home or business. This will provide the best coverage for intended devices but will also limit the exterior coverage. This will decrease the possibility of unauthorized users being near enough to connect to your wireless network.
When wireless networks and devices are not secured, they are vulnerable to hackers. It is crucial credit unions and consumers understand best practices for ensuring network security.