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Cyber Burglary Prevention Advice

Cisco Linksys : 25 October, 2010  (Technical Article)
In light of National Fraud Authority report on consumer Wi-Fi security, Cisco Linksys provides advice on keeping home networks secure
The recent report published by the National Fraud Authority is proof that consumers are still confused about how to protect their online data and which could lead to an epidemic of cyber burglary, says Gareth Jones regional sales manager, Cisco Linksys.

People are being bombarded with messages about online and physical security from all directions and many don't know where to start. But in fact, the easiest way to start securing your personal data from fraud is to switch on the security settings that already exist on your wireless router, something many people aren't aware of! The Wi-Fi network is seen as a 'gateway' to the home where criminals tune in to your network and steal your information. The Wi-Fi must therefore be protected in the same way that you would lock the front door to your house.

Despite the dangers, a report published last week proved that almost half of UK private Wi-Fi networks could be hacked in five minutes and a quarter had no password protection whatsoever. This is cause for great concern considering how sophisticated cyber criminals are becoming and the speed at which identity fraud is increasing. Adding insult to injury, banks are no longer obliged to reimburse victims of fraud that are found to be careless about online security.

By logging onto your home network and following these five easy steps now, consumers can secure their online 'gateway' and significantly reduce the risk of fraud.

1. Change the default password

Change the default password your router provides you with during setup. Hackers know these defaults and will try them to access your wireless device and change your network settings.

2. Change the name of your wireless network

Your router will have a default SSID (Service Set Identifier) or name which can be up to 32 characters long. Hackers know these defaults and can use them to join your network. Change your network's SSID to something unique, and make sure it doesn't refer to the networking products you use. As an added precaution, be sure to change the SSID on a regular basis, so any hacker who may have figured out your network's SSID in the past will have to figure out the SSID again and again.

3. Switch on WPA Encryption

Encryption protects data that is transmitted over a wireless network. Wired Equivalency Privacy (WEP) and Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) offer different levels of security for wireless communication. WPA is considered to be more secure than WEP, because it uses dynamic key encryption.

4. Hide the name of your network

By default, most routers are set to broadcast the SSID (or network name), so hackers can easily pick up your network and join it so it's best to disable the SSID broadcast.

5. Enable MAC address filtering

Some routers give you the ability to enable MAC address filtering. This is not MAC like Mac computers. With MAC address filtering, you specify which computers can access your network. It would be very difficult for a hacker to access your network using a random MAC address.
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