Most people assume if they have a password set on their wireless network that they are safe. This is usually not the case. There are three main types of security methods, and all can usually be cracked quite easily and quickly.
WEP’s are very easy to crack, and takes almost no time at all. Software can decrypt the password by observing patterns of packets collected in the air. WEP is an older password method, but is still commonly used, and it is even set as default for many new routers. Avoid WEP whenever possible.
WPA / WPA2
WPA and WPA2 is the safest method to use, but can still be cracked if the password is too short or commonly used. The attacker will “sniff” the network and get the encrypted password. They will then feed the string into a program that goes through very large password lists or guesses every combination till it finds the decrypted key. These programs can guess thousands of passwords per second, and if the cracker uses multiple computers, they can guess many combinations VERY quickly. Make sure to make the password very robust. A good rule of thumb is to create a password that nobody else on earth is ever likely to use.
This usually can easily be circumvented by using software that waits for a user to connect to the network. This then gives away the SSID or network name away.
Mac Address filtering
Mac address filtering is another method that can easily be beaten. The attacker can spoof their MAC address to be the same as a user on your network, and trick the router into thinking they are that user.
Rogue WIFI Networks
Another thing to look out for is Rogue WIFI networks. Hackers can easily set up a network with the same name as yours, kick you off and force you to connect to their network without your knowledge. They then strip all the browser encryption from your session, making them able to view everything, including grabbing sensitive information like passwords, credit card numbers, and banking information. For more information on protecting yourself from rogue networks and other attacks, please check out Eugene Computer Geeks Free Tech Support Chat.
Remember, everyone is a target. It’s possible to build very sophisticated antennas that can connect from long distances. The attacker could have many reasons to break in. Once they penetrate your network, they can usually break into other systems on your network. Attackers can also use your network to commit crimes and cover their identity. Once they have the password, they can decrypt packets they “sniff” from the air, and see your private data.
Use WPA or WPA2 and make sure to set a long and unique password.