While some people, such as cyber libertarians, do not lock down their network for ideological reasons, others simply do not know how to protect themselves. Leaving your WiFi network exposed can create serious financial and legal problems.
A recent Associated Press article reported that Barry Covert, a Buffalo, New York homeowner, was awoke in the middle of the night by a SWAT unit with an arrest warrant. They believed he was a child pornographer who went by the name "Doldrum." After being arrested, Covert continued to proclaim his innocence. However, he had to prove that he was not who the investigators thought. After searching through his personal computers, the police ultimately determined that Covert had been telling the truth--"About a week later, agents arrested a 25-year-old neighbor and charged him with distribution of child pornography. The case is pending in federal court." Cover was lucky, but the article reports on other cases too, showing that this is not an uncommon problem. Orin Kerr, a professor at George Washington University Law School, notes that this is one reason to secure a WiFi network: "Whether you're guilty or not, you look like the suspect."
We've already blogged, to some degree, on this topic for businesses. So in this article we want to suggest four ways to secure your WiFi network, and point to pages that give quality explanations of how to do what we suggest. (For more reasons, see Bradley Mitchell's article posted on About.com.) Here are the four things you should do:
- Change default administrator passwords.
- Disable SSID Broadcast
- Assign static IP address to devices
- Turn off network during extended periods of nonuse.
If you find that your network has been improperly used, hire a private investigative company skilled at computer forensics. Whether you are building a defense case or taking preemptive measures, private investigators can help you track down people who have illegally used your network and help build a case for civil or criminal pursuit or defense.