TODAY -

Securing Wi-Fi: Negating the doorstep threat

Varun Kapoor *



The ways of accessing the virtual world are many. Even the simple act of making a phone call through your cell phone is a means of accessing the virtual space. Sending a sms, accessing Facebook, logging into WhatsApp and a host of other activities give us access and entry into the virtual space or the digital world.

We can get wireless access to the internet either through a Modem, a SIM card or through a Data card.

As the time is passing new and easier ways of accessing this wonderful world are increasing. But these easier means of access does not necessarily mean safer means of access. The safety and security of this access is in many cases a built in feature but the biggest and best means of security is proper and diligent use of the normal human mind.

This however is a fact that is often ignored and forgotten – everything is not built into gadgets, devices and networks! Human brain has to be used to put provided measures to best effect. This lack of understanding this basic concept leads to many a mistake and many a disaster.

One such disaster in the making is not securing the Wi-Fi router through which we access the internet. An unsecured Wi-Fi router can be easily hacked by a criminal element and then can be used to illegally access the private data and files of the authorized user and it can also allow strangers to use the internet connection of the owner of the Wi-Fi as and when they desire and sometimes with alarming repercussions.

An example of this hardship that can be caused to a genuine user if the Wi-Fi is not secured can be amply demonstrated by an incident that occurred in the city of Mumbai. A serial bomb blast had rocked the holy city of Varanasi on the 7th of December 2010.

Half an hour after the blast an email claiming responsibility for the blast was received from the id alfateh00005@gmail.com by a number of media houses. When the origin of this mail was traced it was found to be in a building behind a mall in Bangar Nagar locality of Goregaon in Mumbai.

The person who owned the Wi-Fi was picked up and detained for questioning and after a detailed and probably torturous investigation, it was found that the person was not involved in sending the Wi-Fi. It was found that as the person had not secured his Wi-Fi connection, it had been hacked and certain unscrupulous elements had sent the mail from the side of Al fateh group and claimed responsibility for the blast.

Just imagine the pain and stigma that the individual concerned would have been put through only because of the small error – feeling that all security is built into the various gadgets and gizmos that we use nowadays and have to not put “our” own faculties to proper and productive use.

Thus if any user has to secure his Wi-Fi connection he must do the following and that to at the outset:

1 Change the wireless network’s default name. A service set identifier (SSID) is the name so that you can identify your network. User should change this name from the router’s default set name. This will make it harder for anyone to guess your manufacturer of the router and thus guess its default settings.

2 Enable encryptions in the security settings page of the router. The recommended settings out of the many available is Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2).

3 Change the password from the default set password supplied with the router. Use a new, strong and secure password.

4 The router broadcasts the SSID to anyone within range. The router settings can be altered to prevent such broadcast and in a way mask the presence of the Wi-Fi router. This will avoid alerting hackers to the existence of the network.

The terror email was sent by such hackers, who take their device and stand on every intersection and street corner and check availability of Wi-Fi networks. Unmasked networks easily show up on their devices.

Then they try to connect to each such network detected and if the network is not password protected and that too by a safe and strong password, they get easy access. Then they go ahead and send such mails or make other such communications and the person caught is the person who own the Wi-Fi router.

Thus to use the digital world securely one has to follow a number of rules and regulations. One of the most important is a secure, masked and password protected Wi-Fi router.


[Views expressed in the column are of the author himself]


* Varun Kapoor wrote this article for The Sangai Express
Varun Kapoor is ADG Narcotics & PRTS Indore, MP
This article was webcasted on June 24, 2018.



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