In recent years home wireless (Wi-Fi) internet connections have become very common. Wireless router technology allows computers to connect to the internet without cords allowing computers to be portable. Wireless routers use radio signals to communicate with your computer. The wireless router broadcasts the availability of your internet connection and like a radio can be picked up by anyone within a certain distance. Because anyone within a certain distance can intercept the communication between the wireless router and your computer, an unsecured wireless connection can have unintended consequences.
Not only can your neighbors get free internet access using an unsecure wireless connection, but strangers may be able to access files on your computer and hackers may try to use your connection for illegal activity.
Follow these tips to help secure your wireless router:
- Change the user name and password for your router. Use the wireless router user manual for step by step instructions on how to change the password. Most wireless router manufacturers also post copies of user manuals to their company website. Read over the guidelines for strong passwords here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Password_strength if you need a refresher
- Enable encryption on the wireless router. Encrypting the communication between your computer and wireless router will scramble the traffic and make it unreadable to anyone who may try to listen in. Encryption also requires some simple configuration on each computer tied to the wireless router locking down the connection and preventing free loaders from using the connection. Most routers have several types of encryption to choose from. Select WPA encryption if it’s available. WEP encryption is weaker than WPA, but a much better option over not encrypting at all. Encryption strength is measured in bits, the more bits, the stronger the encryption. Ideally, encryption greater than 128 bits is recommended. Lastly, you’ll need to configure your router with a passphrase. The passphrase is a unique cipher that helps make your router’s encryption more secure. The longer your passphrase, the more secure your encryption. Make sure to remember these settings. You’ll need to configure each PC on your network to connect to the wireless router with these settings. For tips on creating secure pass codes, visit the following article
- For advanced security consider changing the wireless router SSID, enabling Mac address filtering and disabling remote administration of your router. Your wireless router user manual will provide detailed instructions on how to perform these functions.