Wi-Fi has become an integral part of daily life for everyone. Internet users especially women are depending on Wi-Fi devices to access Internet at their homes and businesses, to shop, bank, coordinate life, and stay connected. Securing Wi-Fi connections is an important element of securing personal data. A few of the wireless devices are vulnerable in their default configuration mode. Since end users especially women are not fully aware of security levels to be set on these devices, they can be easily vulnerable to cyber threat. Cyber criminals look for these unsecured Wi-Fi devices for fulfilling their illegal purposes.

Anyone with in his/her computer, laptop or mobile through wifi connectivity can connect to unsecured Access Points (wireless routers). Also if the Access Point is configured with the default settings or is unsecured, anyone in the range can connect to it directly.  Once the connection is established using the unsecured network ,the attacker can send mails, download classified/confidential stuff, initiate attack on other computers in the network, send malicious code to others, install a Trojan or botnet on the victim’s computer to get long term control on it.

Threats to women while using Wi-Fi

Airport, railway Wi-Fi s hotspots for cyber attacks

Most of the women tend to connect to Wi-Fi if it is available for free in the public places to use their favorite social media or chatting applications. Browsing internet using public wireless computer network at railway stations and airports may leave you vulnerable to cyber attacks. Successful exploitation of these vulnerabilities allows an attacker to obtain sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, chat messages, emails etc, It is suggested that users avoid public Wi-Fi  and instead use secured networks only. Few of the tips to note when using free public Wi-Fi

  • Never auto-connect to open Wi-Fi networks in public places
  • Visit only Secured websites while using public Wi-Fi
  • Disable Sharing of data
  • Keep Wi-Fi Off When You Don''t Need It
  • Avoid using sensitive passwords.

Tracking an Individual

serLike mobile phones, Wi-Fi devices have unique identifiers that can be used for tracking purposes which can cause potential security issues. Tracking by using a Wi-Fi hotspot can also lead to cyber crimes like stalking. To receive or use a service, often websites require the user to share their personal information such as name, age, ZIP code, or personal preferences.

 

By authorities: the authorities have easier access to people’s browsing details and habits, and with justification in the name of national security, could be used to monitor the people without their consent.

By hackers: steal information and hack into unsuspecting victim’s bank accounts and misuse corporate financial information and secrets

Few measures to secure yourself while configuring the router for wireless communication

  • Change the default username and password of the Access Point
    • Wifi home networks and broadband router are protected with username and password so that only authorized people can make administrative changes to the network. 
  • Change the default SSID, and Avoid broadcasting your network name
    • Access points and routers all use a network name called the Service Set Identifier. Just by knowing the SSID it’s not possible to attack your network but it shows it’s poorly configured.
  • Turn off Wi-Fi when not in use
    • When you have extended break from using your home network it is better to switch off to avoid misuse. Also Shutdown the Access Point when not in use
  • Avoid dynamic IP address for home Wi-Fi rather use static IP addresses
    • Most home network administrators use Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) to assign IP addresses to their devices. Turn off DHCP on the router or access point, set a fixed private IP address range instead and then configure each connected device with an address within that range.
  • Always use strong password for encryption
    • Avoid using personal data in passwords. Use passes phrases which are easy to remember.
  • Enable MAC address filtering on Wi-Fi devices
    • Access points and routers keep track of the MAC addresses of all devices that connect to them. 
  • Use firewall and Antivirus for added protection
    • Isolate the wireless network from wired network with a firewall and an antivirus gateway.
  • Use default security features provided by the equipment
    • All Wi-Fi equipment support some form of encryption. So, enable them. Regularly update firmware.
    • Use encryption technology for sensitive data in wireless networks. Always use the maximum key size supported by access point for encryption
    • Turn ON file sharing and airdrop options only when required.
    • Internet security issues and public Wi-Fi risks are on the rise. Taking a few precautions will help you to keep your information safe.
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