Call Out: Wireless Hot Spots & Their Security!
From Mike, Product Specialist
Ivel, KY - July 07, 2011
More and more smart phones are coming to Appalachian Wireless every day it seems, and these newer smart phones are coming with the ability to turn themselves into wireless hotspots.
What is a wireless hotspot?
First, this is not to be confused with your phone's ability to connect to wireless internet. What a Wi-Fi hotspot does is turn your phone into an internet connection for OTHER devices to use. Basically, if you have a wireless router in your home then you are already somewhat familiar with Wi-Fi internet. Internet comes into your home, usually by means of a DSL cable or a television cable. This cable connects to a modem which can read the incoming internet signal and ultimately allows access to the internet. In a lot of cases this modem is plugged into a device known as a router, which then broadcasts a wireless internet signal throughout your home.
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Technically, this modem/router combination has made your home a Wi-Fi hotspot. These home hotspots vary in size based on the power of the router in addition to blockage points such as stairs, doors or walls.
Without any types of security measures, anyone within a certain distance to that signal is able to use it to connect to the internet through your internet connection. Your computers, phones and other Wi-Fi capable devices search out for networks, and while your network is available, other networks may be available as well.
This brings the topic to our phones and their ability to create a wireless network of their own. This network requires a data connection on the phone and connects through an Appalachian Wireless tower, the same way your phone connects to a tower to make and receive calls. Once this wireless network has been created, you can use an additional device to connect to the internet. Laptops, electronic book readers, video game systems as well as other phones can your your wireless network to connect to the internet.
What you should know about Wi-Fi Safety
Unless the correct precautions are taken when setting up a wireless internet connect (either through a traditional modem/router or through your cell phone), then this network and internet connection will be available to anyone within a certain distance. An open network will allow anyone to connect a device and use YOUR internet connection.
If you, the customer, turn your Wi-Fi on and leave it running without any security setup then the following could occur:
- You will likely run your phone's battery down much, much faster. Operating a Wi-Fi connection is a major battery drain.
- Anyone within a certain distance of your device could see and connect to your phone's network. Any internet usage they do will take data from your Appalachian Wireless internet package.
- Any illegal activities done on your phone's connection will appear to have come from your phone.
Setting Up Security On Your Phone's Wi-Fi Hotspot
It is important to follow the correct steps to set up a password for your phone's Wi-Fi connection, just as the majority of people do with a home router. Different phones will have different ways to set up security/password options. For instance, for the majority of our Android devices the option to set up security is located under Menu --> Hotspot --> Settings --> Advanced --> Wifi AP Mode.
Here you will see several boxes. SSID gives you the ability to name your Wi-Fi connection. Security is a drop down menu that will allow you to select one of several different security options. My suggestion is to use WPA or WPA2 if these are available.
Lastly you will see a box that allows you to put in a password to protect unauthorized devices from connecting to your wireless hotspot. WPA/WPA2 passwords can be anything from 8 to 63 characters long, and you're welcome to make it as difficult as you'd like to keep anyone from guessing your password.
Once you've chosen your password, remember it and select save. Now, when you fire up your Wi-Fi hotspot you'll have the piece of mind knowing that only devices that enter that password will have access to your internet access and to your data.
This small step will potentially save you from excessive outside data usage, potential data overage, the possibility of hacking, as well as provide you with some peace of mind. Especially should you fire up your hotspot in a lot of busy, public places.
If you have any questions about whether your smart phone has a Wi-Fi option, or need help settings up a network and password for your device, please give us a call at 1-800-438-2355 or stop by your local Appalachian Wireless store and let one of our Retail Sales Associates give you a hand.
*An open internet connection is to a hacker what an open door is to a thief.