Safety/Security Film: Is Your Information Going Right Out Your Windows?

Cyber security is such a hot-button issue right now that I’m fairly sure most people are aware of what it is, and that it is predicted to be the terrorism of the future. It seems like the nightly news brings a story about another network being hacked and private information being stolen on a daily basis. This has recently happened to a new credit card company, medical providers, and over last Christmas, Toys R Us was even hacked! Now when I hear about another company losing data over their Wi-Fi, I have to wonder if they’ve thought about Safety/Security film…

I would love to say, computer savvy as I am, that I had taken steps to secure my home network…. but that wouldn’t be true. I, like so many other people I know, trusted the Microsoft updates, and Windows Firewall, and my security software to do the job. Plus, I always had it in the back of my mind that the information that I had on my home computer wasn’t nearly as vital as the information that my bank or credit card company has on me…WRONG! Where did I think the information, the account numbers, passwords, balances came from? If you’ve ever filled out any kind of an application, for credit, for an apartment, for a job…everything someone would need to steal your identity is right there on that simple application…and in your computer. And it seems like the cyber-criminals are getting smarter…they have now begun to target bank employees who work from home, rather than customers.Here is an interesting article about just this topic: Cybercriminals Turn Focus to Bank Employees

Until I started working here at AZ Solar Control Glass Tinting I really hadn’t given much thought to the wireless network I had at home. I’m someone who is old enough to remember dial-up (okay, let’s be honest, I remember when there WAS NO INTERNET at all!! And it wasn’t all that long ago, either.) To me, Wi-Fi was just a wonderful convenience. But then I came to work here, and learned that window glass is the single easiest route for your information to get out and hackers to get in…. glass allows all of that digital data to go right through it…. much, much better than walls. Then I was relieved to learn that some Safety/Security films will protect against someone stealing your personal information by hacking into your Wi-Fi.  That was a relief, but I had to look at the problem first.

And that’s the problem…Wi-Fi. We all know that Wi-Fi is something like a radio signal that transfers information over the air, right? That’s as far as my thoughts went on the matter. But now I had to realize…there is really no way to stop a radio signal at your property line, is there? Even if you take basic precautions and put your router in the middle of your home instead of next to a window (I cringe to think how many times I did that, thinking it would help MY wireless signal be stronger…. Yeah, strong enough to go right through that window and all the way down to the corner!!) And even if you talk to the salesperson at Best Buy, or Fry’s Electronics, or wherever, and buy a router with the proper strength for your square footage…. it’s still transmitting over the air, and air doesn’t understand square feet.

Here are a few tips I’ve picked up from my research. These are things that you can do to try to prevent hackers from being able to get into your home network. These are taking it as a given that your Wi-Fi is going to reach beyond the boundaries of your home, and that hackers will at least be able to see your signal. I’ll get to how you can prevent them from even picking up your signal in a minute.

  • Make your router invisible. Most routers have a setting to remove it from the list of available networks. This won’t mean that hackers can’t find it, you’re still there, you’re just not making it as easy as just doing a search for available networks.

 

  • CHANGE YOUR NETWORK NAME AND PASSWORD!! This is the single most important thing you can do, other than blocking them entirely with safety/security film. And don’t have your name or the name of your router manufacturer anywhere in the new name. Did you know that to make it easier for us when we initially set up our router that the main router manufacturers use the same passwords over and over? And did you also know that there are FREE APPS on the Google Play Store and the Apple Store that will just pound your router with every one of the passwords, in the span of like 2 minutes…using every one of the standard passwords for your brand of router, until they get in. Remember, you haven’t changed your network name, so the hacker in his car in front of the house next door with his laptop open already knows, by the strength of the signal, that the Cisco router showing up on his available list is you. I know this, because I’ve used one of those apps, and it had me into my neighbors Wi-Fi in about 5 minutes. Of course, I’m not a hacker…I had just moved in and couldn’t get my internet turned on for a week, but I was totally shocked at how easy it was, and how many people in my area were still using the network name that the router shipped with. In my neighborhood now, someone with a great sense of humor has theirs named “DEA Surveillance Van” … probably has a few people freaked out! But that’s actually a great, anonymous name. And I’ll bet that, just in case it really IS the DEA, no one tries to hack it!!

 

  • Set up your router so that the computers in your home, belonging to you and your family, are the only ones who can log into your network. You will set up your router to only allow devices with a certain MAC address to login. Every Wi-Fi capable device has a MAC address specific to that device. Set the router to allow access to only those electronics that you own and approve of. But don’t forget things like Xboxes, DVR’s, tablets, and cell phones…. even cable boxes need internet access now. If you forget to add them and your cable quits working, hopefully this article will occur to you and you’ll know how to fix it.

The specific instructions to complete these steps will vary from router to router, but you should be able to go to the documentation and find instructions.

And finally, even after you’ve done all of these things, and you STILL get hacked…what then? Remember, we haven’t really done anything to fix the problem, we’ve just worked around it. But your Wi-Fi signal is still blasting all the way down the block, and hacking is what hackers do, and they’re very good at it. We can hide it and rename it all we want, if a hacker wants to find your network and you’re out there, eventually they’ll get in.
Which brings me to our Safety/Security film. It’s fairly thin, comes both clear and tinted, if you want some heat and Safety/Security FilmUV rejection as well, and one of the major uses of the film is so that when a window with safety/security film on it gets broken, the glass stays attached to the film and you don’t have anyone getting cut on glass. From a security standpoint, it also makes it much more difficult for someone to break in when they can’t get the glass and the film out of the window frame!!

Tom V, our owner, has worked with the safety/security film since it was first introduced. He’ll be able to answer any questions you might have, and recommend the best solution for your needs. He still does the majority of our estimates, so feel free to pick his brain. To schedule your FREE in-home or in-office estimate, give me a call at (623) 780-4950 if you’re in Central Phoenix or the West Valley, or at (480) 730-5566 from the East Valley.Cybercriminals Turn Focus to Bank Employees