OMG! WiFi has been hacked! The World is Ending!

Sorry for the drama, but I needed to get your attention. Over the next several days (likely starting today), you’re going to hear breathless stories from all sorts of media outlets (newspapers, cable news, Twitter, etc.) saying that most WiFi connections can easily be hacked.

DON’T PANIC.*

Researchers have found a flaw that could allow hacking of the most-used type of WiFi. But, they don’t believe hackers are using this technique yet. Also, most people should think about how likely it is that someone would try to hack their home WiFi.

What can you do?

Unfortunately, you can’t yet update your WiFi devices to fix this. Makers of the devices need to create a fix first. Also, there may be some older devices that can’t/won’t be fixed. Here are my suggestions on what to do while the device makers work on fixes:

  1. Identify the manufacturer of any WiFi devices you have and contact them or check their website to find out when a fix will be available. Be sure to include every WiFi device: phone, tablet, Kindle or other ebook reader, smart TV, router, smartwatch, etc.  For your router, you may have to contact your internet provider.
  2. Make sure you use secure connections as much as possible. The majority of websites now use secure connections. Take advantage of this by typing https instead of http at the beginning of the website’s address. If you get an error, then the site probably doesn’t support secure connections. In that case, be careful not to enter any personal data or find an alternative site that is secure. This tip shows how to confirm a site is secure.
  3. Make sure your email application is using a secure connection. Check with the maker of the application or your email provider (e.g., Gmail, Apple, AOL, Microsoft, etc.) for instructions on configuring security.
  4. Be careful when using public WiFi including networks that require a password. Make sure you’ve taken care of the points described in steps 2 and 3. Even then, try to avoid sending any personal data while connected to public networks.
  5. Keep your antivirus software running and up to date.

Now, you’re ready to read all of the sensationalized news coverage. Good luck.

 

*This article is written for individuals and home users, not businesses. While I still don’t recommend panicking, business will have much more to think about and do to protect their environments.