Keeping computers secure from hackers and harmful viruses, spyware, and malware is extremely important to maintain confidential information and prevent computer problems. Accessing the Internet wirelessly, particularly in a public place or “hot spot,” leaves unprotected computers open to a variety of wireless computer security threats. One of the best ways to stay safe when using wireless Internet is to use firewalls to keep folders protected. Practice safety when using the Internet by using encryption on home wireless routers; avoid typing in confidential information and visit only secure websites whenever possible.
One of the best and easiest ways to maintain wireless computer security is the use of a firewall. Windows® based computers come with a built-in firewall that can be turned on through the “Security” option in the Control Panel. Many anti-virus programs include firewalls as well, and some users choose to use these firewalls instead of the Windows firewall. Turning on a firewall when accessing wireless Internet protects computers by forcing incoming information to go through a checkpoint so that harmful programs and other computers with malicious intent can’t access the user’s PC.
Turning off folder sharing before using a public Internet connection enhances wireless computer security. Windows® users can disable file sharing through the “Network and Sharing Center” option in the Control Panel. Computers running newer operating systems create folders as private by default. Windows® folders that contain particularly sensitive information can be further protected through encryption, which means the user must enter a password before the folder can be accessed. This option is accessed by right-clicking on the folder, selecting “Properties,” and choosing “Advanced” in the pop-up window.
Hackers and malicious programs can install keyloggers onto a computer. These programs track the user’s keystrokes and are a prime way for hackers and other criminals to gain access to a user’s financial information and passwords. While using firewalls and secure connections greatly reduce the risk of keyloggers getting installed in the first place, wireless computer security is tightened by avoiding typing in particularly sensitive information, such as banking information, when using a public wireless network to access the Internet.
Limiting wireless Internet use to secure sites is an excellent way to heighten wireless computer security. Many sites allow users to connect via a secured connection, which encrypts data and makes it much more difficult for hackers and unwanted programs to access information from the site. Users should look for “https” at the beginning of a web address to ensure they are connecting to a secure site. Many email providers have an option for users to select to always use a secured connection.
Perhaps the best way to promote wireless computer security at home is to ensure wireless routers are set up properly. Most routers are easy to set up and use, but the default router settings often provide only minimal security. Installation software that comes with all commercially available routers usually has an option for the user to set up encryption. The Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) encryption types are more secure than Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). The software also allows users to set up a router password. Changing the password from the default prevents unwanted users from accessing a home router to change the settings or gain access to connected computers.