What’s Up with Wi-Fi?

Courtesy of www.flickr.com
Do you often ask - WFT's going on with my WiFi?

By Carl Weiss

Whether you are worried about the security consequences of using public Wi-Fi, or are tired of having to put up with Wi-Fi dead zones in your home or business, today’s blog is designed to take the WTF out of Wi-Fi.  I will endeavor to cover everything from what the latest in Wi-Fi, to how to bulletproof your Wi-Fi security, to troubleshooting Wi-Fi problems, as well as provide timely tips that will make your Wi-Fi use, safe and hassle free.

Watch out - Here comes Li-Fi

Li-Fi will be the latest and the greatest wireless local area network to hit the street,
courtesy of  commons.wikimedia.org
businesses and homes. But wait, it's not a radio transmitted signal, it’s transmitted by light (i.e. Li-Fi). OK so it’s not really Wi-Fi but it is the next big thing. This new type of wireless connection will be extremely fast. It will be capable of transmitting data up to 100 times faster than current Wi-Fi connections. However, there will be some real limitations. For one, light does not travel through walls. This does enhanced security, but puts a big dampener on reach and scope. Either way Li-Fi has great potential. It is still in its infant stages and we will not be seeing it in our homes and offices for some time to come. To find out more, check out the March 1st, 2016 notes section of this blog that is associated with the story.  Having said that, let’s look at where Wi-Fi came from and what arguably is the best wireless connection available today.

Wi-Fi’s Cosmic Connection

Before there were wireless networks, there were radio-telescopes.  Back in the early 90’s Australian radio-astronomer Dr. John O’Sullivan, along with colleagues, Dr. Terrence Percival, Graham Daniels, John Deane and Diet Ostry were searching the heavens for mini black holes.  While they were unsuccessful at realizing that goal, what they accomplished was far more down to earth, since their research resulted in the issuance of several key patents that gave birth to what would later become known as Wi-Fi.  Granted, early wireless speeds were hardly lightning like, since they provided up to 2 Mbit/s link speeds in 1997. This was increased to 11 Mbit/s in 1999 which proved to be both popular and profitable. 

Courtesy of  commons.wikimedia.org
So were the patents issued to the Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization (CSIRO), the Australian organization that sponsored the scientist’s research.  In a quote from Wikipedia:

“In April 2009, 14 technology companies agreed to pay CSIRO $250 million for infringements on CSIRO patents. [10] This led to Australians labeling Wi-Fi as an Australian invention,
though this has been the subject of some controversy. CSIRO won a further $220 million settlement for Wi-Fi patent-infringements in 2012 with global firms in the United States required to pay the CSIRO licensing rights estimated to be worth an additional $1 billion in royalties”.

What’s in a Name?

The brand name Wi-Fi was coined by the consulting firm Interbrand in 1999.  Phil Belanger, a founding member of the Wi-Fi Alliance who presided over the selection of the name "Wi-Fi", also stated that Interbrand invented Wi-Fi as a play on words with hi-fi, and also created the Wi-Fi logo.  It was also felt that the name “Wi-Fi” was a little catchier than the technical term “802.11b Direct Sequence.”

While an umbrella term used to designate any wireless local area network (WLAN), there are actually several subspecies of Wi-Fi:
Courtesy of  commons.wikimedia.org

  1. Local – which is any home or business that uses a wireless router to provide short range internet access known as a hotspot.
  2. City-Wide – As early as 2001, a number of major metropolitan areas created city-wide Wi-Fi networks for their citizens.
  3. Campus-Wide – Like cities, many college campuses broadcast Wi-Fi to students and faculty alike.
  4. Mi-Fi – Many smartphones have the ability to create a Wi-Fi hotspot. This is especially useful if there is limited or no Wi-Fi access at a given location. Mi-Fi devices are also sold separately.
  5. Bluetooth – which is used to connect devices wirelessly.

While it doesn’t matter where you receive your wireless network connection from an access point of view, the problem with many public Wi-Fi networks is that they are relatively insecure.  Many wireless networks are Open, meaning that they are unencrypted.  This makes it child’s play for others to watch your traffic even if they aren’t connected to the network.  Even if you have a secure connection to such networks, don’t be fooled.  At the very least, the sites you visit, can be identified and recorded since the Domain Name Server lookups your computer does automatically are not encrypted.  In the worst case scenario, you should always assume that any network that you don’t have admin control over, has the ability to show someone who does, everything you are doing and seeing in real time.

Finders Keepers

Courtesy of  www.flickr.com
With this in mind, any time you use any public Wi-Fi connection, beware of entering any personal or financial information.  When it comes to making a cybercriminals day, passwords, credit card numbers or bank account routing numbers are a commodity that can be quickly bought, sold, or used to make your money theirs.  Should thieves gain access to your bank account due to your carelessness, don’t go crying to your banker. He or she will inform you that they are NOT required to issue you a refund.  It’s the same policy that your auto insurer would use were you to leave your car running with the keys in it.  As far as they are concerned, it’s a case of finder’s keepers. Many banks sent their account holders a waiver that once signed, released them from any liability for losses incurred through the disclosure of online passwords.  If you aren’t sure if your bank has done this, you need to have a conversation with them, sooner rather than later.

As for beefing up your security to prevent eavesdropping, consider adding Https address to everywhere your browser takes you.  It works with Chrome, Firefox and Opera browsers to encrypt your communications.  While it isn’t 100% bulletproof, it is better than nothing, which is what you have now.  Check out: https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere.  The other option is to avoid using public networks altogether.  The solution for this dilemma is to use your cellphone as a hotspot.  (Otherwise known as Mi-Fi.) Also don’t forget to avoid using public Wi-Fi hot spots on your smartphone! These devices usually don’t have any protection.

Wi-Fi WTFs

Courtesy of  www.youtube.com
When it comes to Wi-Fi there are a number of frustrations that many people have come to know and hate.  Most of these issues boil down to connectivity snafus.  As good as it is, wireless connections will never be as good as wired ones.  We’re talking radio here.  Everything from the distance to the router to obstructions and even other nearby networks can interfere with wireless signals.  While most users simply grit their teeth and endure these hassles, there are solutions to some Wi-Fi WTFs.
1. Slow Router or No Router – Most routers broadcast at 2.5GHz.  Unfortunately, so do other appliances, including garage door openers, baby monitors, cordless phones, microwave ovens and other electronic devices.  If you have recently noticed that your connection speed has slowed or stopped, the first thing you need to think about is whether you have added any new electronic devices lately.  By turning off the offending device, you may reestablish your connection.

If that doesn’t work, you can always add a Wi-Fi booster or repeater to your system.  One solution is to add the Linksys WGA600N to your existing router.  This device will allow your router to choose from one of 23 channels that broadcast at 5GHz.  It’s the router equivalent of switching stations. Some newer routers also come with this option build in.
Courtesy of  www.youtube.com

Another solution is to purchase one or more of the devices called Eero.  These devices are what Radiohead’s call repeaters.  Instead of relying on one router to broadcast to your home or office, what Eero does is create an array of mini routers that together fill your space with signal sufficient to provide consistent coverage.  Bear in mind that Eero isn’t cheap.  Each unit retails for $200.

Solution number three is to simply upgrade your existing router.   Particularly if you are into online gaming and are frustrated by slow speed, D-Link makes a DGL-4500 router that is souped-up for gaming.

2. Locked Out – I’ve forgotten my password and can’t login!  Is that’s what’s bothering you?  Don’t panic, because most routers have a reset button built in.  Check the back of the router.  Either a button or a small hole will be there.  (If it’s a hole, poke a paper clip into it.) Hold the reset down for 5 seconds and you should be able to access the network. Hopefully you saved the router’s manual so you can look up the default username and password.  If not, try admin/admin or admin/password. Then make sure you reset them so you won’t get hacked. If this doesn’t work, you can look up the manual with your smartphone on the internet.

3. Your router is an energy vampire – If power consumption is a problem, do what I do… Turn the router OFF when not in use.  Problem solved.  I have my entire entertainment system, including the router plugged into an APC surge protector.  All I have to do when I go to bed is hit one button and no more energy vampire.  I’m all out of wooden stakes.

Are You Blue?

Courtesy of  en.wikipedia.org
 The other kind of wireless networking is Bluetooth, which was basically developed by the mobile phone industry.  Like Wi-Fi, it enables devices to connect to other devices wirelessly.  Unlike Wi-Fi, Bluetooth uses a much weaker signal, since it is designed to communicate over distances of 30 feet or less.  It also has much more limited bandwidth than Wi-Fi, which is why it’s great for connecting peripherals like headsets, wireless keyboards and mice, but not so good at transmitting large files.

If you have problems connecting a device using Bluetooth, it is usually because the feature is disabled on your device.  The cure for this is to find the control panel on your computer or phone, that turns Bluetooth on and off.  Sometimes you need to add a device as well to get the job done.  Below are a couple of links you might find useful if the problem persists.

  1. Windows Devices: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Troubleshoot-problems-with-Bluetooth-enabled-devices
  2. iPhone: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3409382?start=0&tstart=0
  3. Mac http://www.radtech.com/support/bluetooth/mactroubleshootingguide

While they call it a wired world, as we all know today’s on-the-go computing environment requires us in many instances to cut the cord.  By understanding the nature and limitations of wireless networking, you will be better able to understand and deal with what’s up with Wi-Fi.

In this article on Wi-Fi, I have covered everything from the history of Wi-Fi, to how to avoid Wi-Fi hot spot scams, how to bulletproof your own Wi-Fi security, troubleshooting tips to solve common Wi-Fi problems, plus timely ways that will make your Wi-Fi use, safe and hassle free.

Get your free copy.
If you found this article useful please share it with your friends, family and co-workers. If you would like to learn more about this subject, visit the notes page on this blog for the BlogTalkRadio show dated 3/1/16. I recommend checking out "The endless Scams of Christmas (and Beyond)“, “It’s Time for Some Hi-Tech Spring Cleaning”,  and “The Hack Attack is Back”. You can also search for other related articles by typing in “Wi-Fi”, “Scams” or “Hacking” in the search box at the top of this blog.

If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091,We will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results. If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below and we will give you immediate access to it. Your information is always kept private and is never sold.

Carl Weiss is president of WorkingtheWebtoWin.com a digital marketing agency in Jacksonville, Florida that routinely works with bloggers and other online marketers to grow their businesses. 

Related articles

The Trouble with Texts - New Text Virus Hits Europe

Courtesy of  en.wikipedia.org
By Carl Weiss

Until recently, a computer virus was something you contracted by clicking on a link or an ad that then had you download a piece of malicious code otherwise known as malware. If you were lucky, your system's anti-malware program picked it up and eliminated it before it could do any real harm. If you were not, then your hard drive was corrupted to the point where it either slowed to a crawl, popped up hundreds of ads, or froze up completely. So news of a new virus would seem to be no news at all. Except that in this case, Android phones in Europe have been infected via text messaging with a new virus called Mazar. Once installed, this malware redirects all web traffic on the infected smartphone through a proxy that allows cybercriminals to harvest personal and financial information from victims. While the virus has not yet spread across the Atlantic, it is only a matter of time.

Something is Rotten in Denmark

It all started innocuously enough in Denmark, when Danish citizens with Android phones started receiving what looked like text messages that went something like this,

You have received a multimedia message from xxxxxxx.”  Follow this link to view the message.

Courtesy of  en.wikipedia.org
Now think about what you would do were you to receive such a message from what you thought was a friend or family member.  Would you hesitate to click on the link?  More than 100,000 Danes clicked, only to have their smartphones infected with malware that allowed cybercriminals to read, respond to and/or erase messages contained on the device.  Plus, the malware gave the perpetrators administrator privileges that also gave them the ability to lock the phone, redirect all internet searches to a proxy server that they controlled, and activate the phone’s webcam, or even wipe a phone clean, among other nefarious activities.

Just Say Nyet

Courtesy of  en.wikipedia.org
Even worse is the fact that once infected, the first thing the hackers did was rifle the email addresses of every contact contained on the device.  These addresses would then be used to send texts to everyone on the purloined phone.  This would then spread the virus far and wide.  Surprisingly, I read several newsfeeds that reported the virus was set to avoid infecting smartphones whose language was set to Russian.  Whether this was due to the fact that the hackers were Russian was never ascertained.  Suffice it to say that unless you want to brush up on your Cyrillic alphabet, this method of avoiding Mazar is not of much use to the population at large.

While the MazarBOT is a relatively new peril to Android users, it is not unprecedented.  In a Yahoo Tech blog published in April, 2015, the online security firm Symantec reported that,   17 percent of all Android apps (nearly one million total) were actually malware in disguise.” In 2013, Symantec uncovered roughly 700,000 virus-laden apps.
Courtesy of  www.flickr.com
More than one third of all apps were what Symantec calls "grayware" or “madware” -- mobile software whose primary purpose is to bombard you with ads. The company also discovered the first example of mobile crypto-ransomware – software that encrypts your data and holds it hostage until you pay ransom for it.” https://www.yahoo.com/tech/report-one-in-five-android-apps-is-malware-117202610899.html

The report goes onto warn Android users from downloading apps from anyplace other than a trusted vendor, such as Google Play.  But as I have pointed out in previous blogs, even Google Play is not invulnerable to serving up apps laced with madware or malware.  Ultimately, the onus is on the user to make sure that their devices are secure and that all apps are thoroughly vetted before they are downloaded.

Malware Takes a Byte out of Apple

Apple users are not invulnerable to malware either.  In 2012, a security hole in Java allowed more than 600,000 Macs to be controlled by a botnet spawned by the Flashback Trojan.  http://www.zdnet.com/article/over-600000-macs-infected-with-flashback-trojan/

Even iPhones have their issues, as reported in a January 2016 blog on n4bb.com entitled, “iPhone Virus: How to Deal with It.

Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org
A lot of these malware apps were also designed in such a way that scammers are able to fish for and gain access to the users’ personal information. Most of the time, the users most affected by these malware apps are those who use devices are running on either Microsoft Windows or Android platforms.
It’s rear to hear that an Apple user found a malware app on their device. It not unheard of, but it is rare. Then again there are those unfortunate few: Apple users whose devices, for some reason, have contracted malwares through their browsers.
Just a few months ago, Apple has announced that it removed dozens of apps from the App Store after detecting that malware were masked and inserted into some of the apps downloadable from the App Store. The malwares reportedly made their way to the App Store through a fake version of Apple’s XcodeGhost, which program developers use to write codes for their apps. Security experts believe the breech was made when Chinese developers unknowingly downloaded and used the fake version of XcodeGhost after bypassing Apple’s security system.
Before this discovery, however, only a total of five apps out of over 1.5 million were found to have malwares in them. This means that Apple’s security system is still one of the most secure in the worldhttp://n4bb.com/iphone-virus-guide/
Courtesy of  en.wikipedia.org

You're the Last Line of Defense

That last line has little meaning if you find your iPhone has succumbed to an infected app or text.  If anything, Android users have become cagier, since they know their devices are vulnerable.  Now Apple users are starting to realize that no device is invulnerable.

That being said, there are a number of things that Android users can do to protect themselves:

  1. Install antivirus software – Contrary to popular opinion, smartphones aren’t phones at all. They are computers that can be cracked and hacked the same as any PC, laptop or tablet. 
  2. Be wary of using public Wi-Fi nodes since these are breeding grounds for malware.
  3. Thoroughly vet any app you intend on installing.
  4. Open your default messaging app and make sure that you disable the setting that automatically retrieves multi-media messages. (You can do this by going into your phone's settings, select the "more" item under the Wireless & Networks section and look for "Default messaging app” Select the “more” item under the Networks section and deselect the option for auto-retrieval.)

Courtesy of  pixabay.com
Other than that, do not open any attachments you receive even from family and friends, unless you call them (believe it or not, your Android phone can do this) and ask them if they sent you the attachment.  More importantly, if they act as though they do not know what you are talking about, inform them that in all likelihood their system has been compromised and all their friends and family need to be warned that they should not open any attachments purportedly coming from them.

Just as when fighting a viral pathogen like Ebola, the only way to prevent the spread of a disease is by stopping the outbreak at its source.  In this day and age, that’s what it takes to have safe text.

In this article, I discussed the how a new virus is being spread via text messaging on Android devices. This new type of Text virus attack is spreading through Europe like wildfire and will soon be hitting the USA shores. The rise of ransomware and other types of viruses have made it possible for cyber criminals to profit by going after individuals and small businesses. Following the how to protect yourself list article will help minimize your risk and exposure.
Get your free copy today!

We recommend listening to the BlogTalkRadio show for 2-22-16 by the same name. If you'd like to read more articles like this one, check out “How Close is the US to Experiencing a Digital Pearl Harbor?”, “Are You Prepared for the Onslaught of Cyber-Attacks?”, "Trick or Tweet? The Vulnerabilities Inherent to Twitter and All Social Networks" and "Working the Web - Is There a Cyber Attack in Your Future?" or enter the words “hacking” or “cyber attacks” in the Search box at the top of this blog. If you found this article useful, please feel free to share and repost it. I welcome your opinion and comments, just add them to the Comments section below.

If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091,We will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results. If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below and you will receive immediate access to the book. Your information is always kept private and is never sold.

Since 1995, Carl Weiss has been helping clients succeed online.  He owns and operates several online marketing businesses, including Working the Web to Win and Jacksonville Video Production. He also co-hosts the weekly radio show, "Working the Web to Win," every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern on BlogTalkRadio.com.

Related articles

How to Launch your Next Marketing Campaign

Courtesy of  pixabay.com
By Hector Cisneros

Have you ever wondered why some people are extremely successful with their marketing and others are not? They seem to be able to put great ads together quickly. They can develop and launch a website in less than a few weeks. Better still, their return on their marketing investment is much higher than the average business spending the same amount of money. In this episode, I will cover “getting organized” to wage war on your competitors. I will also show you a checklist that when fulfilled and followed, will make you come out on top 99% of the time. Better still, your return on your investment dollar will be better than it’s ever been. So tune in and turn onto this week’s episode of Working the Web to Win and learn the organizational steps that make for a successful marketing campaign.

What’s Up with Web 3.0?

Courtesy of WorkingTheWebToWin.com
By Carl Weiss

This ain’t your daddy’s world wide web.  If you thought that Web 2.0 was mind blowing, wait until you see what’s coming.  Where Web 2.0 turned an online research tool into a global social phenomenon that redefined how we interact with one another, Web 3.0 promises to take us where no web surfer has gone before.  That’s chiefly due to the fact that the next generation of online technology will be AI enabled and able to deliver more information faster and in more ways than is now possible.  If you want to see what Web 3.0 has in store for you in the not too distant future, buckle up as I give you a sneak preview in this week’s blog.

Are Trolls Taking Control of the Internet?

Stop trolling ! ( Courtesy of Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Carl Weiss

Look up the word “Troll” and you will find two meanings.  The first is the Scandinavian legend concerning hideous creatures whose life revolves around vexing humans and who turn into stone upon contact with sunlight.  The other definition is to fish using a hook and line that are pulled through the water.  Trolling on the Internet combines the worst of both these concepts by creating hideous comments and bald faced lies about human beings that are then pulled along by the sheer momentum of social media.