Contributed by Brett West
As technology evolves around us, so unfortunately do the clever criminals who exploit it. I am not a cyber-security expert, but I move in the IT consultancy circles and have many friends who are cyber-security experts. There is a new buzzword that these experts are using. It is called Air Gap defence, which is a really strange expression, until you understand what it means.
Essentially, an ‘Air Gap’ defence layer is the absence of a wireless connection into your computer equipment or network. It means that various parties cannot ‘wirelessly’ hijack your computer systems, your WI-FI router, or your smartphone, laptop, etc. They have to instead come ‘down the wire’ where you can usually install security software to act as a firewall. A classic case is when you go to the local Cafe and use their free WI-FI. Before you know it, you come away with weird viruses embedded on your laptop, because some other person was sitting there, and piggy-backed on top of the free WI-FI connection into your laptop. He put a sniffer on the laptop which will send him your details the next time you use the same laptop to access your bank account. Happy days. For him at least.
Another thing these same security experts are doing is buying these special radio-frequency (RF) blocking wallets, to keep their bank cards in. The bank cards are mostly ‘contactless’ which means someone with a reader can literally brush past you, interrogate your bank cards, and copy the details. More happy times for the criminals. What surprised me is that all the cyber-security experts I know have these special wallets, and avoid using Wi-Fi networks like the plague. In fact, if you get them around a table in the pub, they start comparing the models of their security wallets and how many bank cards can fit in them. A few years ago, I worked for a major bank and we had some unusual security breaches. Eventually the internal experts traced the breach to the fact that the bank was located on a main road. Apparently, the hackers were stopping outside in a vehicle, and then interrogating and penetrating the Wi-Fi system, from the street, into the building.
Now of course everyone assures us that Wi-Fi is perfectly safe as long as you password-protect your home router. Have you ever noticed how many expensive cyber security specialists work for the average financial institution, and how they force to you change passwords all the time with really complex passwords? I hope you regularly change your home Wi-Fi password… And possibly have a team of security experts to make sure all your PCs and devices are protected with the latest updated security software, like we do in the office.
And to top it all there are a lot of scientists who have been saying, for many years, that the microwave radiation coming off the wireless devices is actually bad for our health. They have lots of websites and research papers published. All in all, it is starting to feel like the new technology convenience is actually a bit riskier than we like to think.
My suggestion is to do some research and make sure you know what is actually going on.
One of the most basic security precautions is to keep the Wi-Fi network switched off until you absolutely need to use it, and then only switch it on while you are accessing it. Use hard-wired internet connections as the preferred choice. When on the go, keep your mobile devices in Airplane mode when you don’t need them to talk to any network.
If you want to find out what all the scientists are saying about the harmful effects of microwave radiation, check out the online training courses at https://www.wirelesseducation.org/. Many of the tips in the courses also improve home security, as well as reduce risks of over-exposure to microwave radiation.
For more information on securing your wireless network from criminals, start with this excellent summary https://heimdalsecurity.com/blog/home-wireless-network-security/.