As someone who often feels "too busy" to take basic precautions with my wireless data, I know I'm playing with fire. Here's a good reminder of why from Joel Gurin of the FCC, who suggests that the recent disclosures about data lapses involving Google and the Apple iPad should be a spur to at least do the easy things.
Gurin links to an excellent government guide on data protection, OnlineGuard.gov.
Here are five steps that are easy to take:
- Use encryption to scramble communications over the network. If you have a choice, WiFi Protected Access (WPA) is stronger than Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP).
- Most wireless routers have a mechanism called identifier broadcasting. Turn it off so your computer won't send a signal to any device in the vicinity announcing its presence.
- Change the identifier on your router from the default so a hacker can't use the manufacturer's default identifier to try to access your network.
- Change your router's pre-set password for administration to something only you know. The longer the password, the tougher it is to crack.
- Allow only specific computers to access your wireless network.