Welcome to week 2 of my series on security and prevention. This week I'll be talking about protecting your wireless network. The convenience and freedom that wireless networks offer is the same reason they could offer a huge vulnerability to your computer and data.
There have been many reports that a lot of the cyber attacks on major organizations were done by hacking a ton of basic home wireless routers and piggybacking off of their systems. If you want to keep your system safe and not be an unwilling accomplice to the next cyber attack then read on and see what simple settings you can change to protect your wireless network.
**For all of the steps in this you'll need to be in your routers settings. In order to do that open your web browser, and where you normally put in the web address out "192.168.0.1". If that doesnt ask you for a username and password try "192.168.1.1". These are the most common settings. The usual default logins are admin/admin or admin/password. If either of these work then this is your first stop.
Change the admin password
If someone did get access to your wireless network then all they would need to do is try the default logins from above and they would have access to your router and all its settings. Go to the administrator section and change your admin password. Then write it down on a sticky note and put it on the router.
Password protect the wireless network
If you go under your wireless settings and look at your privacy settings you should see that your network is protected with encryption. You might be overwhelmed by all the abbreviations. What you're looking for is WPA2-AES. Choose that encryption and put a strong password in and you're good to go.
WPA was meant to be a more convenient way to add devices to your wireless network. But ended up being a huge security hole. Under your wireless settings go under the WPS section and disable it!
This was probably one of my more tech heavy topics. So feel free to reply if anything was confusing. And please keep the topic ideas coming!
Whether you follow tech news or not, reports of credit card numbers and financial info being stolen from businesses and retailers has been rampant. Using credit cards and even storing customers card numbers offers convenience for you and your customers, but there's risk involved as well. If proper security measures aren't taken then you may find yourself the target of a cyber shakedown that leaves all of your customer’s bank accounts at risk. Below I'll breakdown some common and basic security measures you can take to protect your customers, your business and your reputation.
1. Protect your network
All terminals and credit card machines require access to a computer network with internet access. This poses the same threats as any computer. Be sure you change the admin password to your router and if you're using a wireless network make sure it's encrypted with a strong password. Also, its good practice to have your terminals and card readers on a separate network then the general public, that way anyone who gets on your wireless network wouldn't have any way of getting to your terminals.
2. Protect your data
If you do store customer’s credit card information you'll want to make sure that they're all encrypted and only necessary staff have the passwords.
3. Protect your terminals
Anymore, a lot of terminals are simply Windows PC's on a touch screen with special software acting as the Point of Sale. Which means the same concepts apply to protecting your terminals as protecting your PC. That means they'll need a good antivirus, and they'll need to be regularly updated with updates from Microsoft. Keep in mind that a lot of terminals are setup with automatic Windows updates turned off so that your terminal won't disrupt its regular functions. This makes it especially important that you make a point to manually update Windows once a month or so.
There's a truth in technology. That truth is that "The more secure it is, the less convenient it is." That's a truth with very few exceptions. And everyone needs to find the appropriate amount of security and convenience for them. Forward thinkers understand that, when it comes to technology, convenience today could bring on massive inconvenience tomorrow. I hope this has been helpful for you. As always if you think this could be helpful to someone please pass it on.
IT(information technology) is similar to a vast ocean. The storage, transmission and security of our data is the demand that creates the depths of the ocean. And the countless and unique solutions fill it, and very few people have the need to swim the whole thing. That's why I enjoy my job, because just as I have a strong variety of customers they need a variety of solutions. That forces me to continue to learn, or in some cases remember technology I haven't used in a while. I had that very thing happen a couple weeks ago with a customer and VPNs.
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and it is exactly what it sounds like. VPNs use a combination of encryption and security certificates to create a secure tunnel in the Internet. Sound vague? Imagine the Internet as a highway. Millions of tiny cars flying back and forth can be dangerous. Now pretend a VPN is an armored car with bullet proof glass. Impressed yet? Let me give you two practical examples of how the armored car can help you.
If you do a lot of sensitive work in coffee shops, or anywhere that you're sharing your internet connection with people you don't know, then you might be interested in this. This feature will encrypt your data traffic and link you to a server in another part of the world so that not only is your web browsing untraceable but it is so encrypted that no one can spy on it in transit.
If you want to do some work over the weekend away from the office but have to resort to emailing files back and forth then you might be interested in this. This works the same way as the private Internet but instead of connecting you to some server in California it connects you to your home office. So that no matter where you are in the world you can have secure access to your file server or any other network based resources just like you were right in the building. This can also work for satellite offices. If you have a server in your main office and then have a team of people in an office in another state you can have a VPN tunnel connect the two offices so that it’s like they’re all in the same room.
Needless to say, VPNs can be very powerful and helpful. Prices range from thousands of dollars to free depending on the sophistication of security you need and the number of users you have to connect.
I hope this has been helpful. As with all my newsletters posts, they’re meant to be helpful so feel free to pass it on.