Many of us use wireless networking at home to take advantage of the freedom to “compute” in locations throughout the house. I like to work in the den where I can sit in my favorite chair and partially listen to the TV while browsing and writing.
This mobility is the major advantage to using a wireless computer at home. We naturally enjoy not being tethered to the Internet connection in that one room in the house. Okay…so much for the “pros” part of this article, a pretty short list, wouldn’t you say?
Now for the watch-out-fors or the “cons”. You knew the “cons” were coming next…didn’t you? Wireless networks are less secure than wired ones, primarily because physical access to the network isn’t necessary in order to tamper with it. A person within the range of your network, say on the street, with a few inexpensive tools, can access your network resources. This access may involve something as benign as piggybacking on your Internet access; or as sinister as installing malware on your computer or network devices. By the way, that malware may have the ability to steal passwords, bank card numbers, and any other personal information stored on your computer. Dark and gloomy would be our prospects if we didn’t have the following practices to help us stay safe while wireless networking.
As promised, here are some what-you-can-do tips to help stay safe while wireless networking:
- If you have a “wired” computer in addition to your wireless one; use the wired one for critical functions such as your online banking and purchases.
- Always use an anti-virus package with the automatic updates enabled.
- Use a router that has at least Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) version 1, or even better, version 2 (WPA2) encryption capability.
- Turn off your wireless computer connection when your computer is on but not being used.
- Always change the default wireless network adapter SSID to one unique to you and use a strong password as well.
The primary message of this article is that wireless computing can be dangerous, but by implementing the above tips you can use your wireless pc more safely and enjoy the benefits of wireless computers in your home.
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Remember, home computing is a blast…keep it productive and enjoyable.