Wireless networks have made browsing the internet much more simple and efficient than used to be the case. Although broadband connections were a major upgrade over the slow and pestering dial-up connections that made using the internet more of a punishment than getting the job done, they still had the problem of providing multiple-connectivity. The problem with wired networks is that only one user can use it at a time.
Although one might say that that one device could be used to create a hotspot and other devices could connect to a single wired network in principle, the fact still remains that hotspots are a form of wireless networks too. Anyhow, it is known to all that Wi-Fi networks allow the capability to have multiple connections and enable people to browse the internet and get a lot done. However, it is important that you have a Wi-Fi network that is not open to all people. Before going into why it is so, we first take a look at how to tell if your Wi-Fi is open.
How to tell if your Wi-Fi is open
There are different methods for different operating systems.
- Click the Wi-Fi icon on the right corner of the taskbar
- Click ‘View Connection Settings’ from the resulting sidebar
- Click on your network in the PC menu
- If it says WEP or WPA then your network is secured. If it says unsecured or no authentication then your Wi-Fi is open
- Click on Start -> Control Panel -> Network and Internet -> Network and Sharing Center
- Click on Manage Wireless Connections
- Check the security status next to your connection
Mac OS 10.5/10.6
- Click on the Wi-Fi icon on the top left of your screen
- If a lock is present next to your network then it is secured, otherwise not
Why is it dangerous to have open Wi-Fi
Now that you know how to check if your network is secure, here are a few reasons for you to be cautious and change things if your network is open:
- You can be victimized in malicious practises
If your wireless network is open or unsecured, it can be used by anyone who is in range. This means that you cannot choose you is connected to your Wi-Fi. People who indulge in malicious activities often are on the lookout for such networks to remain anonymous while carrying out their task. The network that is identified as theirs is actually your own and before you know it, the police are knocking on your door.
- It is an open invitation to Identity Thieves
People use their Wi-Fi networks to share sensitive, personal information over the internet for things like making online payments, etc. Most computer systems and other devices store a lot of sensitive information about a person as well. If an eavesdropper or snooper were to connect to your network then not only will he be able to see all that you are doing on the internet, he will also have access to all data you share and store. This can be used for anything, even sold to someone on the internet.
- Your monthly internet bill could shoot up
While it is possible that malicious users connect to your network, mostly it is your neighbours who use it for free and exhaust all your data for the month, resulting in you getting a huge internet bill that leaves you scratching your head. Not as harmful as the other things, but something to avoid nevertheless.
Securing your wireless network with a password is a simple thing and can be done in an instant. It could save you from a lot of trouble, so it is better to do that if your network is open to the world.