Wi-Fi is quite literally all around us. But how exactly does it work? What does it stand for? Why are some Wi-Fi connections stronger and why are some weaker?
To answer these questions, we’re going to take a deeper look at Wi-Fi networks. Hopefully, by gaining a better understanding of the technology, you will be able to optimise your network and enjoy a strong internet connection at home.
Here are four things to know about Wi-Fi networks.
- Wi-Fi Uses Radio Waves
Wi-Fi is a form of wireless networking technology that allows your smartphones, tablets, laptops, PCs, and various other devices to connect to the internet.
One might think that the term ‘Wi-Fi’ might hold a clue as to how the technology works. However, contrary to popular belief, ‘Wi-Fi’ doesn’t actually stand for anything. Some say that it stands for Wireless Fidelity, but this isn’t true. ‘Wi-Fi’ was simply chosen as it was a name that was easy to remember. It was chosen over the term IEEE 802.11, which was a term used to refer to a set of local area network (LAN) standards that Wi-Fi technology is based on.
Instead of transferring data via cables, Wi-Fi uses radio signals instead. The use of radio signals is convenient for a lot of users as it allows them to connect to the internet while having the freedom to roam around their home.
However, since the signals are in the airwaves, it can be vulnerable to cyber-attacks and other digital threats. Connecting to public Wi-Fi, for example, can lead to theft of personal information, malware distribution or session hijacking.
- Multiple Devices and Materials Can Cause Interference
There are a lot of things that can affect the strength of your Wi-Fi connection. In simple terms, Wi-Fi interference occurs when radio signals bump into other signals at the same frequency (typically 2.4GHz). If you have smart TVs, digital antennas, smart refrigerators, and microwaves, all of these can cause Wi-Fi interference and affect the strength of your internet connection. Even your neighbour’s Wi-Fi signals can create problems.
Additionally, certain materials like concrete, masonry and metal can also block signals. To improve your Wi-Fi connection, it’s recommended that you use range extenders, repeaters and antennas. Since Wi-Fi signals travel in all directions, it’s also best to place your Wi-Fi router in a central location in your home.
- Different Frequencies
Wi-Fi typically operates within the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. At 2.4Ghz, the signal will be able to reach a larger area, but the internet connection won’t be as fast. On the other hand, 5 GHz is confined to a smaller space but offers a better connection. In addition, since the 5 GHz frequency is newer, it is usually less crowded than the 2.4 GHz band. Because of this, it is less susceptible to interference.
So, which one should you use? The answer depends on what you use your internet for. If you only use the internet for simple tasks such as research, browsing the internet and watching YouTube videos, 2.4 GHz should suffice. However, if you’re looking to play online games or stream HD movies, 5 GHz would be the best option.
Nowadays, even connecting your VR headset to your computer also requires a 5 GHz connection for a smooth experience.
- Because Wi-Fi Can be Used for Cyber-attacks
As mentioned before, Wi-Fi and indeed other forms of wireless networking can be used for a variety of cyber-attacks. It’s important to further understand this as it can cause a lot of problems in your personal life. If you run a business, this matter becomes even more of a concern.
Here is a list of risks that you need to look out for:
- Data Theft
Attackers can steal all the data on your tablet and mobile phones including PIN numbers and bank information.
- Shoulder Surfing
Hackers can see your screen as you’re using your device, allowing them to find out personal information about you.
Someone can ‘piggyback’ off your Wi-Fi network and use it as their own without authorisation. This can affect your overall internet speed.
- Wireless Sniffing
This is when attackers use public Wi-Fi signals to ‘sniff’ out your personal information (i.e., credit card number) as you’re completing transactions on your phone or tablet.
These are just a few of the risks that come with unprotected Wi-Fi connections. To protect yourself from these attacks, you need to make sure that:
- You have a secure password
- Your network encryption is on
- You have a router firewall
- You created a guest network for visitors
- Your router’s firmware is updated
We hope that this blog has helped you understand your Wi-Fi network a little bit better. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your Wi-Fi, be sure to contact a local specialist. They should be able to help you optimise your internet connection and protect you from malicious cyber-attacks.