3 Ways To Check The Security Of Your Internet Connection

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internet privacy and securityYour Internet connection is a portal to a world of information, but it is a portal that can work both ways. Just as you can find information through it, others can use it to find information about you. Trojans and keyloggers can monitor your computer usage and transmit sensitive information, such as credit card numbers and passwords, to a third party.

Using a wireless connection makes security even more important because anyone who gains access to your network can use it to conduct illegal activities without your knowledge.

There are, however, some methods that can be used to keep tabs on the security of your Internet connection. Some are simple, while others are very complex, and no single practice covers all possible security problems. Taking the right steps will reduce the risk of your Internet connection being compromised, however.

Install A Firewall

internet privacy and security

The worm, a common security threat, typically replicates itself by randomly spamming information at other computers in search of a security flaw. If the flaw is found, the worm can inject itself into a system without the user doing anything. This can lead to your computer being enlisted into a botnet – a series of infected computers that follow commands given by the worm that has infected the system or, in some cases, by the person or persons who created the worm. Botnets are often used to send spam and perform denial-of-service attacks against websites.

Installing a firewall will dramatically reduce the chance that your computer will be infected by a worm and forced into the service of a botnet. A firewall, as you may know, is a barrier that filters out Internet traffic which may be malicious. This prevents many common attempts to hijack or infect a computer via network security flaw. Windows now ships with an acceptable firewall, but you can further enhance your security by downloading a free firewall or purchasing one as part of an Internet security suite.

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Use Network Monitoring Software

internet security

Home networks are increasingly common as homes that once had only a single computer are adding additional devices. This includes not just new computers but also game consoles, Blu Ray players, televisions and various appliances that feature wireless connectivity.

This array of devices can make it difficult to identify a device that isn’t supposed to be connected if it appears. Networking monitoring software solves this issue by keeping track of your network and shaping the information it gathers into an intuitive display. This makes it possible to analyze the devices on your network and sniff out those that don’t belong. Some network monitoring software also lets you designate certain devices as trusted. If a new device pops up you’ll be given an alert, or the device will automatically have its network access restricted.

Tech-savvy readers will probably note that this same basic functionality can be achieved by monitoring the MAC addresses that show up when you log into your router. For most users, however, network monitoring software will be the better choice.

Try To Crack Your Wireless Internet Password

internet privacy and security

If you are using a secure wireless connection the only thing that protects your Internet security is the password you’ve chosen for your network. Anyone who compromises this password can easily make full use of your Internet connection. Network monitoring software would likely display the new, unknown hardware connecting to your network, but if you’re not home the damage may be done before you can take action against the intruder.

The best defense against this is a long password that makes use of many different characters. This decreases the chance that a brute-force attack will be able to crack your wireless password. In order to check up on your security you can try to break your password with your own computer. The most popular tool for this purpose is Aircrack, which can be used to attack WEP and WPA encryption.

The only issue with this is the complexity of the program – if you’re not already versed in the technical nitty-gritty of wireless networking you may have trouble using a tool like Aircrack. The geeks who design these programs rarely have accessibility in mind.

Conclusion

As is often the case with computer security, you can’t 100% guarantee that your Internet connection will never be cracked. However, taking these steps can protect you from most threats.  Hackers are clever folk, but they rarely have reason to bang against someone who is taking steps to protect their Internet connection when they can instead pick on your grandparent’s poorly secured connection.

Let us know if you have any other methods for testing the security of your Internet connection.

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Comments (16)
  • Alex

    There isn’t any reason I can think of, other than the one you mentioned, but unfortunately a broadband suppliers have a nasty habit (in the UK at least) of providing routers where default security is WEP. Two networks on my street this moment are WEP encrypted, I think mainly because people trust providers to set them up with adequate security.

    Thats why I thought its worth a mention in the article really, I don’t know if its less of a problem in America. With context to the with the digital economy bill, I think false legal accusations on hijacked lines will be an increasing problem.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/tec

  • venkat

    minumum enabled Firewall is definite aid for secure internet connection.

  • Alex

    From what I understand, you shouldn’t don’t rely on MAC address filtering, which mentioned briefly in the article (but not directly recommended). Anyone trying to gain unauthorized access to your network will probably know how to use MAC spoofing software, its only a google search away…

    I really think you should differentiate strongly, really strongly between WPA and WEP. They are not one and the same in terms of vulnerability.

    • M.S. Smith

      Yes, WEP is most certainly weaker than WPA. There isn’t really a reason to use WEP anymore, unless you have some really old hardware that doesn’t support WPA. In which case it is time to start putting some money into your piggy bank so you can afford an upgrade.

    • Alex

      There isn’t any reason I can think of, other than the one you mentioned, but unfortunately a broadband suppliers have a nasty habit (in the UK at least) of providing routers where default security is WEP. Two networks on my street this moment are WEP encrypted, I think mainly because people trust providers to set them up with adequate security.

      Thats why I thought its worth a mention in the article really, I don’t know if its less of a problem in America. With context to the with the digital economy bill, I think false legal accusations on hijacked lines will be an increasing problem.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/7566427/MPs-pass-Digital-Economy-Bill.html

    • M.S. Smith

      Aaaaah…I see. I haven’t noticed that problem in my area (Oregon) but that could certainly be a problem. Most people wouldn’t know any better, trusting that their ISP did whatever was required.

    • Aibek

      Alex, thanks for the input.

  • Alex

    From what I understand, you shouldn’t don’t rely on MAC address filtering, which mentioned briefly in the article (but not directly recommended). Anyone trying to gain unauthorized access to your network will probably know how to use MAC spoofing software, its only a google search away…

    I really think you should differentiate strongly, really strongly between WPA and WEP. They are not one and the same in terms of vulnerability.

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.