March 1 2011

Is Your Data Really Safe On That Free WI-FI Network?

Posted on the 06:35 am under IT Security by Darren Boyer

Hacking is not confined only to those with lots of knowledge and time these days. With the introduction of free hacking software, almost anyone can sneak into your Wi-Fi network and pry on your internet activities. Recently, new software was introduced by a freelance software developer with the intention of pointing out the vulnerabilities in the cyber world. The software, called Firesheep, is extremely easy to use and lets another person on the network access your browsing usage. Lack of end-to-end encryption at most airports, Starbucks and free WI-FI services is what the software takes advantage of as it attempts hacks into your wireless session.

You never know when your privacy is going to be invaded. Web addresses that begin with “https” instead of “http” and a little lock at the corner of your browser shows that you are on a secure website and that hacking isn’t possible.  Using a SSL certificate or encryption will also prevent hijacking.  Microsoft’s Small Business Server delivers email using SSL when properly configured.  Facebook users must turn this feature on when logging in.  As mentioned already, not encrypting all communication is to blame for most hackings and several websites have still not considered full encryption. Business owners are lead to believe that implementing encryption systems on their websites will slow down the website and huge engineering expenses are reasons they give for not doing so.

While website owners are pondering over the encryption debate, you can take necessary steps to protect your privacy. If you are dealing with sensitive information, it is highly recommended that you operate via home wireless networks. This does not mean that wireless networks are immune because WI-FI cracking programs like Gerix WiFi Cracker, Aircrack-ng and Wifite are widely available. No matter how much effort is made, hackers are always working to keep one step ahead of those trying to protect us.

For now, setting up a Virtual Private Network can be a foolproof option where your data will appear gibberish to your intruder until it is blasted on the internet. Customers using Cisco or Fortinet firewalls have access to this type of security.  A free share utility called ultrasurf could also offer some security protection.  You could also consider using complex and less predictable passwords for your wireless network.

Your Grande Prairie IT Support specialists are experts in ensuring your business IT systems are secure.  Being a local Fortinet support specialist provides us with the ability to ensure your corporate information is kept confidential, inside and outside the office.  Give us a call today and talk to a member of our team about your IT security.

Written by Darren Boyer

Darren Boyer

Darren Boyer is the founder and president of pcit.

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