Whether you are sitting at an Airport, a coffee shop, or nearly anywhere in public most people these days wouldn’t mind having a open wireless internet connection to tap into to kill some time using a little bit of internet. Being in a public location, most people aren’t going to set up anything malicious to connect to the internet, and they put controls into place so people are tearing up massive amounts of bandwidth by downloading/streaming out of the ordinary amounts.
Unfortunately, many home internet users that demand they have access to a wireless connection from their routers, are much less educated in what is/isn’t needed to keep their system secure… or at least safe and have their Internet Service Provider (ISP) set up and lockup their network. This usually is a good idea if you have no idea what you are doing, but can lead to problems down the road. There are basically 3 types of wireless encryption with a varied amount of protection that they offer.
WEP (Wireless Equivalent Protection HA!) Is the original way to lock up your wireless waves, but has been broken down and compromised to the point that it does not offer adequate protection. It is essentially locking a screen door to keep criminals out of your home.
WPA (WIFI Protected Access) is a much better than using WEP, but this makes it fairly easy to gain access to your network if you are using weak passwords. This type of protection is heavily reliant on how many characters you decide to use rather than complexity of passwords i.e. don’t use “flowers88″ when you could use “thisismypasswordtomyrouter”.
WPA2 (WIFI Protected Access II) is an expansion on WPA, yet is completely different in the protocol that it uses making it even much more secure and unbreakable than it’s predecessor.
Most people would rightly assume that you should always use WPA2 as your wireless protection to prevent people from slowing down your internet or by monitoring your traffic which makes sense. The only issue is many devices that are around today are not compatible with all forms of protection… I found out 2 days ago that my relatively new Google Chromebook doesn’t like WPA2. This came as a surprise to me, but after working out the security issues it was able to be used as intended.
Do know what type of security your router uses and did you set it up? Did you have the guy that “installed your internet” set it up? Do you feel like setting it up on your own or having your ISP do it leads to a different level of security?