How to Secure Your Wireless Network

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July 18, 2011

If you currently have a wireless network set up in your home, you are most likely enjoying the benefits of fast internet searches and downloads, wireless connections, and more. Hopefully you have taken the time to secure your wireless network, and if you haven’t, you should. Securing your wireless network will prevent others from using your connection and viewing your personal information. There are certain things you can do that will help secure your wireless network. These things are quite simple to accomplish and do not require a large amount of time.

Secure Your Router

After setting up your wireless network, the first thing you need to do is take some basic steps to secure your router. You will need to change the default password that came with your router to a stronger, more complex password, otherwise known as a security key. Make it a combination of letters and numbers, if possible. You will also want to give your network a unique SSID, or service set identifier, that is vastly different from the default. A SSID is basically the name of your network, and can be up to 32 characters in length.

Most routers come enabled with a feature known as SSID broadcast. This can be beneficial for businesses and wireless hotspots where users go in and out of the network’s range, but for home networks this feature should be disabled. Disabling SSID broadcast will prevent your network from showing up on other wireless networks that are in range of you. You should also check to see if your router comes with a feature that allows you to turn down the signal strength. If it does, you should turn down your signal a bit. This will minimize the chances of others gaining access to your network as well.

Enable Encryption

After the basic steps of securing your router have been completed, you should make sure to enable some type of encryption. Most routers come with the encryption feature disabled, so check your router’s manual or website for additional information. Encryption is an extremely important security measure that encodes the information that is transmitted from your computer to your router. This makes the information difficult for intruders to crack because it is in code form.

There are two forms of encryption that usually come standard on newer wireless devices. The first type of encryption is known as WEP, or wired equivalent privacy. WEP is an older form of encryption and is often simple for hackers to crack, making it easy for them to gain access to your network. The second and more advanced type of encryption is known as WPA, or Wi-Fi protected access. If your device offers WPA or WPA2 encryption, you should definitely use it. It uses complex encryption keys and makes your information very difficult to crack, meaning your network is much more secure. Just remember that all wireless devices on your network must be set to the same type of encryption, otherwise they will not be able to communicate with each other properly. Also, if you are using older wireless equipment that only supports WEP encryption, use it. It is better to have some type of encryption enabled rather than none at all.

Although you may think securing your wireless network is time-consuming and difficult, it is not. If you can follow simple instructions, you will be on your way to a secure network in no time at all. Once your wireless network is secure, you will have peace of mind knowing your information and connection are not accessible to others.

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