Tyler Shield is currently a Vice President at Cayman Wireless.
How does someone know if their home network is secure and how can they test it?
Test like this can be quite a challenge for a home user. Hacking a network that uses WEP, or WPA requires a specialized network card on a specialized Linux OS. The worst form of security is Mac ACL as that can be cracked easily in windows with Mac spoof. Use a random password generator 15 characters of length. http://www.pctools.com/guides/password/
Beyond having a strong password? What is the single best thing to secure their network?
Always use WPA2/AES. It is the only Encryption that is only breakable by key logging and brute force. All others have easier and quicker work arounds that enable you to crack it by reassembling the key.
How can you tell if someone is trying to hack you system?
With a home router this is difficult to test. You need a router that stores a list of all DHCP requests by mac even expired ones. Create a table of all devices and audit the list. If a foreign device appears you have been hacked.
What tricks can someone do to really annoy someone who is trying to hack them?
Don’t allow local network access via wireless with a firewall rule. (Drop forwarded 192.168.0.0/16) Keep in mind everyone will have internet access but no local network access with that rule unless you build in individual exceptions. Exceptions then become vulnerable to MAC or IP cloning.
How can someone tell if their home modem/router has a built in firewall?
Almost all routers have a firewall. The issue is what features does my firewall have and support. I would always use my own router and not one supplied by my ISP to ensure I have full access to it.
People use smart phones on free hotspots all the time what are the security concerns about doing this?
If the network is unencrypted and the site visited is NON SSL, then another client can sniff the packets and see what you are doing. However, the same thing applies to the owner of the access point. So do not use an unsecure non SSL site for sensitive information.
Is there any type of security software we should be adding to our smart phones?
If you are on wireless a lot a paid virus protector could not hurt.
One last question for myself ty, how do I keep a computer with Windows Vista from being pinged?
First thing is pings only happen on the local network so you’re worried about another local system pinging you. You can ping the internet but the intent can’t ping you back due to the present of a router performing NAT. (This is true for IPv4; with IPv6 coming in the future this will change) You can use a local system firewall to drop ICMP packets not originating from the router, or at the router level you can isolate all local clients via (drop forwarded 192.168.0.0/16).