How to Secure Your Wireless (WiFi) Network (Page 1 of 4)
Categories: WiFi and Wireless Technology
Wireless Networking Introduces New Challenges In Security
It seems like only yesterday, a computer network was only found in office buildings, schools, and the homes of advanced computer users. Setting up networks involved stringing cables from one computer to the next, configuring hubs and routers, and lots of spare time. Today the face of networking is much different. Wireless technologies have made it easy for any user to setup a home network. With wireless, the need to string wires through the house is eliminated, which allows anyone to network a device regardless of its location.
On the flip side, the growth of wireless networks among novice users has brought new security challenges. On a hard-wired network, there is little need to fret over security beyond your web connection because the only way an outsider can use your network is with a physical connection. This means that breaking into your wired network also involves breaking into your house, which (thankfully) is out of the realm of computer hackers. However, unsecured wireless networks can be used by anyone with a wireless laptop near your wireless router, even by someone parked in front of your home.
An unsecured network can allow someone to use your web connection to their delight, and if your computer is on, find their way into your personal files. In other words, an unsecured wireless network opens the doors for anyone to take advantage of you.
How Do I Know If I'm Secured?
The central part of any wireless networks is the access point, which is a device that transmits and receives information to wireless devices. Nearly all access points have security measures to help keep attackers out of your network. Even as little as a year ago, most wireless access points had the security features turned off by default. They relied on you to turn on and configure the security settings. While the experienced computer users often have security in mind, average computer users rarely find their way into the routers setup menu.
If you never remembered doing anything beyond plugging in your wireless device, you probably have an unsecured network. To verify the security settings on your wireless device, you'll need to access its configuration menu. Usually, you need to type in the routers IP address in your web browsers address bar. The default for most routers in 192.168.0.1, but every router is a little different. If typing this address does not work, you'll need to locate the user manual for the device. It will have instructions on how to access the setup menu.
Once you've found the setup menu, locate the section for security settings. Depending on the age and features of the product, you'll have different choices. Not everything discussed below will be available on your product. Remember, these days security is something to take very seriously. The more effort you put into securing your wireless network, the less likely someone will try to break into it. Every security measure has a benefit and a drawback.