When one thinks about home security, they ususally think of taking measures like installing alarms, deadbolts, and window locking devices. But if you have a wireless computer network like many American homes, your personal data (credit card numbers and banking information) could be open to hackers.
When you first purchase and turn on your wireless router, the router manufacturer makes it dead simple to connect your wireless devices. Out of the box, your wireless router is unsecured. Given that most wireless routers have a range of around 100 feet, if your neighbours have wireless devices, they can connect just as easy as you can. Even worse, hackers can drive past your house with a $ 29 wireless network detector and discover and connect to your unsecured network!
The good news is that you can perform 4 very basic steps to secure your wireless network and prevent hackers from gaining access to your data. You will need to consult the manual for your wireless router to perform the actual tasks described here.
1. Reset the router’s password There are only a handful of wireless router manufacturers and each one uses a common default password. Linksys uses ‘1234’ and Netgear uses ‘password’. Any hacker will try these passwords first to gain access to your network. So change the password to prevent hackers from accessing your data.
2. Turn off SSID Broadcasting Your wireless network needs to have a unique name to distinguish it from other wireless networks. The Service Set IDentifier is always set to broadcast by default. Once again this is done to make it easy to connect to your wireless network for the first time. By broadcasting the SSID, you are making it easy for hackers to connect to your network. So consult your users manual and find out how to change your SSID to a unique name, and turn off the SSID Broadcast feature.
3. Enable WEP Encryption Wireless Encryption Protocol (WEP) is a technology that will encrypt all traffic that goes over your wireless network. By default, your router will have WEP turned off, meaning that all of your personal data is transfered across you wireless network in plain text. Once again, this is an easy target for even the most inexperienced hacker. Enabling WEP is very easy, and should be enabled as soon as you possibly can.
4. Setup a MAC Address Filter Finally the most advanced tip offered here is to setup MAC address filtering. Every computer wireless adapter has a unique id called a MAC Address. You can tell your router to only allow access to devices with a particular MAC address. This is probably the most effective step you can take to secure you wireless network.