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Securing Your Wireless Home Network
I helped some family set up a wireless network this week. While it’s fairly simple to get a wireless router running and get a functioning wireless connection, there are a lot of security options available with most routers that many users may not know of or fully understand. Being a security-minded individual, I’d like to outline some of the commonly available security options that are worth configuring to secure your wireless network.
Change the Default Admin Password On Your Router
This is the first thing to change when you hook up a new router or access point. All wireless routers come with a default administrative user name and password. They’re usually the same for most products sold by the same manufacturer, and are therefore quite easy to guess if left unaltered. By leaving the password set to the default value, anyone who connects to your network could alter the settings on the router.
Enable Wireless Encryption
Enabling encryption will provide the biggest single-step security boost. I’ve known some people who refuse to do this because they’d then have to set up a new connection on their laptop and provide the correct password. Once. I think it’s well worth it to prevent unauthorized access, especially if you’re living near a lot of other people (apartment, dorms, etc.)
WEP (Wired Equivalency Privacy) is the simplest (and weakest) encryption option. It is the easiest to crack, but certainly better than nothing. Use it if there aren’t other (stronger) options available.
WPA (Wifi Protected Access) or WPA2 are stronger, more secure alternatives. It’s best to use the strongest encryption supported by both your wireless access point and the computers that will be connecting to it. WPA is a good bet, as it should be supported by most computers that are in use (older computers may need some updates to support WPA2.)
Disable SSID Broadcasting
Your SSID (Service Set Identifier, aka whatever you choose to name your wireless network) are typically broadcasted by default. This means that anyone within range that browses for a wireless signal to connect to will see your network. Disabling the option to broadcast your SSID will prevent others from finding your network easily. Friends will still be able to access your network if you provide them with the SSID and password/access key, so you won’t be keeping out authorized users by changing this setting. The option is usually just a checkbox that says “Broadcast SSID.” You’ll want to un-check it.
These are just some quick tips to consider when setting up a wireless network. There are plenty of more advanced options that are available to increase security further. I may write further on such options in another article.