Wi-Fi security is regularly disregarded by Mac users, which endangers the integrity of their system and opens their personal data to the exploits of hackers and opportunists. Additionally, those who do not take decisive steps towards securing their Wi-Fi connection also make it possible for authorities to access their iMac or MacBook. This guide has been written to teach members of the Apple family how to minimize the security risks when using Wi-Fi.
WEP, WPA, and WPA2
Among the three most-commonly used security protocols—WEP, WPA, and WPA2—only the latter can be used without posing an unnecessary threat to the system. It has to do with the fact that WEP and WPA are the legacy encryption standards that rarely stop intruders from gaining illegal access to a Wi-Fi network. If a user has an older router that supports WEP and WPA only, it is highly recommended to make a firmware upgrade, thereby closing the security gap. It can be done through the Airport utility, which can be found in the Utilities folder.
Add a secure password to dissuade malicious individuals from connecting to the wireless network. Access the security settings of a router and set a WPA2 key. It is always smart to use a chain of letters and numbers that is not shorter than 10 characters. To prevent botnet attacks, the admin password of the router should be stored only on a Mac that is used for accessing it. Furthermore, the password must not be shorter than 20 random characters.
Mac Address Filtering
Mac address filtering can make the Wi-Fi network even more secure. Every computer accessing the network has a Media Access Control (MAC) address that functions as a unique identifier of the device. To ensure that only certain computers are allowed accessing the network, enter their addresses in the Mac Address section of the router’s settings. It has to be borne in mind, however, that the use of MAC address filter necessitates the manual change of settings to allow trusted devices to connect to the network.
Disable SSID Broadcasting
By disabling SSID broadcasting, it is possible to make the network relatively invisible, which will substantially reduce the chance of unauthorized access. The SSID settings can be altered in the router’s Security tab.
Limit the Range of the Wi-Fi Signal
To ensure that only devices located in the close proximity to the router have access to the network, try reducing its frequency range in the Advanced Wireless Settings section of the router’s Security tab. Alternatively, use a directional antenna to broadcast the Wi-Fi signal in a specific direction.
Install one out of many freely available HTTPS browser plugins that automatically switch website URLs from the use of the insecure HTTP communication protocol to encrypted HTTPS protocol. After redirecting websites to HTTPS, all information exchanged between a browser and a server will be encrypted.
Set the Static IP Address
Every time a user connects to a Wi-Fi network, the system assigns their device a temporary IP address. Having such address means that a hacker can also use it to access the system. Therefore, it is recommended to set the static IP address in the router’s settings. After the address is set, it is necessary to change the Network Settings of an iMac or MacBook to use it when connecting to the network. To this end:
- In the Apple Menu, go to the System Preferences;
- Click on the Network icon;
- Select the preferred method of network connection from the list of available options;
- Click on the Configure IPv4 tab to manually enter the static IP address.