The pace of technological development has accelerated so rapidly that it has taken us all by storm. We, as consumers, have been enjoying these strides so much that we’ve turned a blind eye to the threats which are growing alongside them. This is one of many reasons why criminals have gotten a head start on us and as of now, they are winning the cyberspace battle. The losses through these activities are expected to hit the $6 trillion mark by 2021. This is enough to buy the world’s most valuable brand six times over!
One of the newest trends to enter this arena is Wi-Fi hacking. Much like conventional hacking, this involves sneaking into your Wi-Fi through unauthorized means. This can happen either when a person guesses your password or uses sophisticated tools to crack the security protocols on your Wi-Fi. Once they have access to your wireless network, there is a lot which they can do with it.
Dangers of Wi-Fi hacking
Wi-Fi connections can become hubs for illegal activities of all sorts. Even without gaining access to your Wi-Fi, users can log on to portals on the internet and find your complete address just by using the name of your connection. Surprised? Well, you can try it for yourself. Well, the dangers don’t stop here. When connecting to a Wi-Fi, your device sends a ‘joining request’ to it even if it is your home network. Hackers can easily use this ping to ascertain the MAC address of your device, the router and SSID data for your phone.
SSID or Server Set Identifier will leak the names of all the networks your phone trusts. Hackers with the right knowledge and equipment, which is almost everyone these days, can clone any of the trusted networks, make your phone connect to it and infect your device easily. Theft of data, planting viruses, stealing bandwidth and illegal use of the network are just a few malicious tasks which can be performed by any hacker with access to your Wi-Fi network. Tracking home addresses is just one way in which these elements can come close to causing harm to you and your family.
Is your Wi-Fi named after your home?
A Wi-Fi name alone can give out a lot of information regarding you and your device along with the browsing details for each session. When your Wi-Fi is named after your home it makes tracking much easier. There is no technical knowledge required in finding out your home address using just the Wi-Fi name of your connection. As discussed earlier, this can be done easily through websites currently active on the internet. These websites use scanners to collect the names of Wi-Fi connections in the vicinity of a certain device. Then these platforms use heat maps to pinpoint the exact location of where the Wi-Fi is located.
What if a Hacker knows your home and data?
Hackers have several ways of collecting Wi-Fi information for devices. They can use phishing emails and surveys to make you confirm your network connection details or they can use scanners to help them catch all local Wi-Fi join requests. The scanners are conveniently available in the market and are quite cheap. These professionals can either target a specific individual whose connection may seem profitable to them or scan a lot of them and then target some or all. Their intentions can vary depending on the hacker and what he is after.
A hacker who has picked up a lot of networks using scanners will then be able to check which devices are connected to each network. Besides every network in the vicinity, they can also track ‘join requests’ being sent by specific devices to their trusted networks. With these ‘requests’ a lot of user information comes at a risk. When a hacker knows your home location, one can imagine what activities might be carried out at your home. On the other hand, hackers can also imitate your trusted networks and initiate man-in-the-middle attacks. They pose as a webpage or service and trick you into entering some sensitive data onto the portal. Depending on what you entered, there are a lot of cybercrimes you can become a victim of.
Most people assume that they will be able to tell a fake page when they see one. This is not true anymore. Hackers can create extremely legitimate looking pages to trap unsuspecting users and extract vital information from them. Imagine a hacker with your home address and credit card number. Now think about the possibilities of causing damage available to them.
3 Ways to stay protected
The dangers might be extensive but there are a number of ways in which we can shelter ourselves from any attempts at Wi-Fi hacking or other cybercrimes. Of course, the first step is to be vigilant. Here are a few things besides that:
1. Change the name of your Wi-Fi
If the name of your Wi-Fi is the same as your home, make sure that you change it. Use something which is less conspicuous and doesn’t give a hint of the place where the connection may be located. Make sure that you keep a strong password on your Wi-Fi and ideally change it regularly so that unauthorized access is minimized.
2. Change Wi-Fi settings
There is a lot of setting which you can modify to make sure you stay secure. First of all, are the join requests which your phone sends to trusted networks. You can turn these off effectively using the settings in your phone. Android users can turn off Wi-Fi scanning while iPhone users can restrict their ‘Auto-Join’ settings. With these settings off you might have to manually tap on and connect to your Wi-Fi. It is much safer this way and your password is saved so you don’t have to enter it again and again.
Additionally, it is important to turn off any file sharing features on your connection to make sure that there is no unencrypted data being transmitted over the Wi-Fi.
3. Turn off SSID broadcasting
SSID broadcasting reveals large amounts of crucial information about you and your network connection. This is the measure which ensures maximum security from Wi-Fi hacking. With SSID broadcasting turned off, your Wi-Fi doesn’t appear on any heat maps and none of the people in the vicinity of the connection will be able to find it. You’ll have to search for it manually yourself and then connect to it. It is an added task which might take some effort but it will protect you from threats of cybercrime.
In order to do this, you have to access the settings on your router as an administrator and shut them down.
To wrap it up
Besides these preventive techniques, there is another medium which helps put a barrier between you and any entities with sinister intentions against you. They are known as a VPN. Services like Ivacy offer extensive Wi-Fi security by masking user identity. This means that since the requests sent from your phone are already routed through anonymous servers controlled by Ivacy, you don’t have to worry about any information leaking out. Moreover, the service also has a unique ‘internet kill switch’ feature which disconnects the internet if the VPN ever stops functioning. This helps you protect yourself against all types of hackers and spammers among others.