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4 steps to securing your networks

How not to be like Trump in the age of the Winter White House

ProPublica’s expose of the lax wireless security at Mar-A-Lago, among other Trump resorts, is alarming. It finds that wifi networks at resorts Trump has frequented since taking office are not encrypted, and like many negligent hotels, don’t even have passwords. That means that any information passing over those networks is free for the taking.

Were I a regular guest of Trump’s resorts (or a monthly-dues-paying member who shelled out 200k just to join) I’d be *pissed* that my credit card information or sensitive corporate matters were passing over these networks. Unfortunately, now, the stakes are even higher; the guests to Trump’s resorts now are world leaders, meaning state secrets are most definitely in the hands of foreign intelligence agencies. So that’s cool.

Ok, so, what that means for you is:

1) you can add this to the list of things that enrage you / keep you up at night

(and / or)

2) you can this to the list of things you do better than our president

To start, don’t be like Trump; lock your ish down with these four steps:

First, safeguard any networks you control — at home or in your office.

1) Start by changing the default password to your router. Routers usually come with a basic default password that never gets changed — just Google “Linksys default router password” and stare in horror at how easy it is to get into the entirety of your system. Instructions for changing the password will depend on the kind of router you have. You’ll need access to the router itself to get the original password.

Give it a long, tough password.

2) Next, secure your wifi network. You log into your router’s firmware through a browser; at the address field, type the IP address of your router. Most use If that’s a no-go, try the Google. Here are more detailed instructions for accessing your wifi settings.You may also want to Google for instructions with the name of your internet provider.

If your network name reveals the kind of router you use, i.e., “Linksys123,” change it. Then, activate encryption. Set up the network as a WPA2-Personal (or WPA2-PSK) network. If WPA-Personal is all that’s offered, take it for now and then get a modern router. Set the encryption type to AES (avoid TKIP.) Create a password that you’ll remember.

Next, use a VPN.

A Virtual Private Network encrypts your traffic on the internet. So when you’re on a wifi network that’s open, like at a coffeeshop where the wifi doesn’t have a password, or a network where lots of people have the login information (like at a goddamned hotel with one password for all the rooms) switch on your VPN. Yes, Netflix occasionally won’t allow it, so you may need a workaround for getting your Forensic Files fix while on travel. Here’s a roundup of VPNsfor 2017; I usually recommend TunnelBearbecause it’s cheap, easy, and fun, and I know and adore the makers! Other collaborators of Sec+ prefer Private Internet Access.

Change the default name, if needed, turn on WPA-2, and put a password on it.

Finally, install HTTPS Everywhere, a browser plugin by EFF.

The little “s” next to the http means secure, as you may have guessed! This plugin routes your traffic to most major websites over a secure connection. It’s an excellent companion to the other practices and tools listed here.

Secure your connection, even when everyone else’s is just dropping data everywhere.

Start out here. Yes, this is a bit of Googling and some technical looking stuff, but I assure you, it’s doable. Comment or Tweet questions: @shaunalead

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