In 2007 the US Census data determined that 88.7 million households had computers. That was 78% of all households in America! It is likely that in 2011 we have reached 90% or better. Computers can do so much for us, but it all comes down to connections. One small wire opens up a portal that allows us to do and go practically anywhere. Congress is already putting together a National Broadband Plan to bring high-speed internet to rural America. This means almost every computer user will have some type of connectivity.
There are three types of connectivity names that everyone needs to understand. They are: LAN, WLAN and WWAN.
LAN, simply means a physical connection to the computer. This is a wire that plugs into the port in your unit and goes to the router box provided by your phone or cable company.
WLAN, is a Wireless Local Area Network. It is commonly called Wi-Fi and is what HotSpot locations use, such as Starbucks. Almost all computers and laptops that are sold today have wireless capabilities needed.
WWAN, means a Wide Wireless Local Network. It is a mobile broadband that cell phones use and is commonly called 3G or 4G, and means 3rd Generation and 4th Generation. Other former names were 2G and 2.5G.
Unless the device you have is meant to travel far distances most home owners and business owners use either a LAN or WLAN connection. Wireless connections out beat LAN connections because wireless connections are more convenient for today’s society. The wireless connection allows you to move around your home, office or property without losing your Internet connection. This is the main reason why laptops are so popular as they have just as much speed and memory capabilities as desktop computers, but have the ability to travel with us.
One major difference between LAN and WLAN is security. A wireless device uses bandwidth signals, and those waves can be picked up by other people beside you. An open network allows outsides to gain access to your device and your information.
Have no fear, as you can protect yourself. Be sure your wireless router is password-protected. Your password should be as difficult as possible without making it ridiculous to remember. Avoid using simple combinations like your phone number, birth dates, social security numbers and other information that can be easily obtained by professional hackers. Always use a combination of upper and lowercase letters along with numbers. Instead of your regular birth date 05211970 (May 21, 1970), change it to something like M05a21Y1970. This still contains the birth date but also contains the work May. Many new routers won’t allow you to use simple codes, but as a rule of the thumb, all of your passwords you use daily should be difficult enough to deter an adequate hacker.
Your next defense is a Firewall. A Firewall protects your data from Internet hackers. In today’s world we hear all too often the affects that identity theft play in peoples lives, and the devastation of viruses hitting the internet. There are actually two types of Firewalls. One is used by your computer, the other is network based and safeguards all of the computers sharing your wireless network. More is better, every personal computer devise should be protected by its own Firewall and your wireless network should be protected.
When you first purchase your wireless router, the manufacturer provides you with a website to enter your information and username/password. These initial settings can easily be hacked over the internet. The moment you have confirmation that your router is working, immediately change your administrator passwords and all usernames. Again, your usernames and passwords should always be difficult for people to access. Do not use simple combinations like: Admin: Fred, Password: Flintstone.
The wireless router will also come with a default network name which is known as SSID or Service Set Identifier. The SSID needs to be the same for all of the devices in your home or business that you wish to have connected to the wireless network. If you leave the default SSID, it may indicate to a hacker that you have little computer knowledge and can be easy prey. Just like everything else, avoid using the simple elementary names. Personal information about you and your family is easy to obtain. Your memories are not. Try mixing up something like where you first met your spouse: in London in 1985 on Canal Street. Your new SSID number can look like: 1L0nd0n9Cana18Str33t5. What we did in this example is use the year 1985 and broke it up evenly, then we took the key words: London, Canal, Street and made it a combination of upper and lowercase letters and changed easy alphabet letters to numbers. An ‘O’ can be substituted with a Zero. An ‘L’ becomes a 1 and so on. Be creative while maintaining an easy-to-remember combination.
If you are a home network, you need to make sure you disable the SSID broadcast. This is a feature used by businesses and hot spots. This can be disabled by logging into your network using the admin password. Not changing this broadcast feature will also single hackers that you may be easy to hack.
When you are setting up your wireless router, be sure to set the unit as close to the center of your home as possible. This will help confine the signals closer to you and away from the street and/or neighbors. So a hallway closet is better than putting the unit on a table by the front window. Also, keep the devise away from household appliances like telephones and microwaves.
Finally, if you are going away on vacation or for a few days, shut the router off if you do not need it. Why leave something open for attack while you are away? This is only feasible if you only use the network for your computer and not for VOIP phones, security cameras, servers or other devices that require a steady connection.
More and more people are going wireless and are staying in contact with family and friends by using their computers, laptops and mobile devices. We are all connecting and need to make sure we keep our data safe. Always be sure to safeguard yourself.