Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Keeping Your Computer Friendly -- Step 4: Secure Your Wireless Network

If you have a wireless network at home do you want everyone in the neighborhood (or someone parked outside) to be able to access it and potentially your computer and it's data? Probably not.

Have you taken the necessary steps to prevent unauthorized access to the wireless network? Again, for too many of us, probably not.

Basic steps you should take to secure your network include configuring the router to:

  • Rename the administrator username and the administrator password (hackers know the default names and passwords for all the popular wireless routers).
  • Enable wireless security -- in order of most secure is WPA2, WPA, or WEF. When entering the network key make sure, just like passwords, it is a strong key (use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters such as !@# -- and longer is better).

More advanced steps, but certainly worthwhile, are configuring the router to:

  • Use a different base IP address than the default (which is usually
  • Limit the number of subnet addresses to only handle the number of computers you actually have connected to the network.
  • Hide the wireless network -- often a checkbox which tells the router not to send out beacon packets to the wireless network.
  • Enable MAC Access Control where you tell the router which computers, via their MAC address, are allowed to access the router.

By performing these steps your wireless network will be significantly more secure. For more information on this topic, an excellent article is How to Secure Your Wireless Home Network with Windows XP.

Securing your wireless network is very important. If you can't do it yourself, hire a professional to do it for you.

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