Computers, Laptops and Tablets

Securing your home wireless network.

When using Wi-Fi, the absolute minimum security you should enable is wireless encryption and password protection (WPA2 where available, otherwise WPA) on all your devices including your wireless router. Here's why you should secure your home Wi-Fi network from strangers and trespassers:
An unsecured network means anyone with a Wi-Fi device in your coverage area can access your personal Internet connection and your devices. You could be providing "free" Wi-Fi for all your neighbours. Many dishonest users also scout around looking for unsecured Wi-Fi to exploit.

Trespassers can steal your bandwidth and usage capacity to download large files like movies or games, leaving you stuck with a big bill or restricted usage and download speeds. You could be liable for any criminal actions that were conducted using your unsecured network – even if you knew absolutely nothing about it! Your unsecured browsing history, passwords and log in info and email content can all be easily accessed. Your unsecured shared files can be accessed, copied or deleted. Your unsecured Wi-Fi enabled peripherals like printers or video game systems can all be easily accessed. Unsecured networks show up immediately as unlocked and vulnerable on wireless network scans on devices.

They're easy prey. Even a secured WPA2 network can be compromised by a Key reinstallation attack, which can leave sensitive information vulnerable.

Now that you know why securing your Wi-Fi network is so important, here are a few other things to keep in mind:
When setting the password for your home Wi-Fi network, always follow the guidelines for establishing strong passwords. Try to keep your coverage area limited to your house by placing your router as close to the middle of your space as possible, rather than placing near windows. • Make sure that every device on your network, including routers, computers, smartphones, and smart devices, have updated software and operating systems to keep your entire network protected. Not using wireless encryption?

There are two things you can do. First, make sure you enable the SSL encryption in the settings of the sites you visit (like your email). Second, visit the secure HTTPS version of sites and not the unsecure, regular HTTP site by simply adding an ‘S' to the website's URL. There are optimal settings for your router to maximize the security that is available to your particular setup. You may have to refer to your router manual or contact your provider.

The risks of downloading and file sharing

Downloading from the Internet and sharing files are both common, everyday practices, and can come with a set of risks you should be aware of.

What are the risks of file sharing?

  • You could unknowingly give others access to your computer while file sharing, who could potentially copy private files.
  • This can happen when you're asked to disable or alter your firewall settings in order to use Peer-to-Peer (P2P) to upload to a file sharing program, which could leave your computer vulnerable.
  • Downloading viruses, malware and spyware to your computer without you knowing it. They're often disguised as popular movie or song downloads.
  • Inadvertently spreading viruses and other malware that damage the computers of those with whom you're file sharing.
  • Downloading unwanted pornography labelled as something else.
  • Exposing yourself to legal issues such as copyright infringement if you download movies, TV shows, music or software that are copyright protected, even if you didn't realize it.

Protect yourself while downloading and file sharing

Being able to share and download files, such as documents, programs, pictures, music and movies is one of the most appreciated aspects of the Internet. And while there are many large retail sites that offer paid downloads, many users are also sharing files between one another.

There are many different ways to share files between users, such as email and using peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing.

When it comes to downloading files in the more traditional sense or using a service like P2P sharing, there are risks to be aware of, including copyright infringement, expensive lawsuits, and potential criminal consequences.

  • Whenever you download files off the Internet, you must use caution and ensure that you are getting them from a trusted source.
  • Always use your antivirus software to scan files you download.
  • If you are using an additional piece of software to download files (such as P2P), make sure you get software you trust and be extra careful not to install the adware that often comes packaged with it.
  • Be aware of what you are downloading and sharing as there are potential criminal consequences to copyright infringement.
  • You must keep all your security measures and OS (operating system) regularly updated and enabled when file sharing.
  • Run your anti-virus and anti-spyware often and use them to scrutinize all downloaded files before you open them.
  • Delete dangerous files and malware immediately. File sharing may require you to open your firewall to allow access.
  • To lessen your chances of being hacked, always keep your firewall enabled and as up to date as possible.