You just moved into your new Montrose Square apartment. You open up your laptop to check your email and then realize the cable company hasn’t been out yet to install your new internet service. So, just for fun, you click on the network icon in the bottom tray and up pops a list of ten or twenty (or more) WiFi networks with usable signals in your apartment. Why so many? Sure, back at home, you might have seen a couple of nearby WiFi networks, but only two or three.
Remember, apartments are closer together than houses, and if every resident has his own WiFi modem, you’re bound to be able to pick up the signals from next door, upstairs, downstairs, and anywhere, and years ago, it was common for residents to use other residents unsecured WiFi all the time.
The bad news is, if you can see their WiFi, they will be able to see yours, and connect to it if you do nothing to stop them.
OK, so you’re generous, so why do you care if someone uses your internet for free? For one, if they are using it to download large amounts of data such as streaming videos, this will slow down your own internet service. But worse yet, if they are downloading something illegal, this can be traced back by law enforcement officials to the person who owns the internet service, which is you. People who do illegal things on the internet look for opportunities where they can use someone else’s internet service to do their dirty work, so they will go undetected. You, on the other hand, will have a lot of explaining to do, and will have not way to prove it was your neighbor who was really guilty.
Today, most phone or cable providers set up your WiFi with something called WEP or WPA, or now, WPA-2 Security. If you set up your own WiFi, you have to manually set up this security. Given a choice, don’t use WEP security. It’s been around awhile, and isn’t considered secure any long. Use WPA or better yet, WPA-2.
There are other horrible things that people can do to your computer if you leave your network unprotected. The important thing is, take a few minutes and make sure you are properly set up and using your WPA or WPA-2 security. If you are secured now with WEP, change over to WPA or WPA-2 (also called 802.11i standard.) Sure, you’ll have another password to deal with, but that’s just life in the digital age. You lock your apartment door, and take a key with you when you go out, right?
If you’d like to know more about securing your WiFi, click here.