For most people who purchase a wireless home router, they simply use the setup wizard and be done with it. The simpler the better. But for the person who likes to be extra secure, here are a few tips for making your home wireless network a bit more secure.
So Many Wireless Networks to Choose From
Drive up and down any neighborhood with a Laptop, chances are pretty good there is an unprotected wireless network waiting for anyone to connect. Imagine a hacker or your neighbor who has been using your connection and possibly capturing all your data being transmitted over the Network. Your Email, Bank and Credit Card account information vulnerable and out in the open for anyone to steal.
If this sounds like YOUR home wireless network, it's time you put security in place and lock out unwanted guests.
8 Tips To Secure Your Wireless Home Network
Tip #1 - Change The Router Default Username and Password - While this may seem like the most logical thing to do when setting up a wireless router (or any router for that matter), many people ignore changing the password. You would be surprised at how many people think just using encryption on their wireless network will prevent someone from gaining access to your router.
With router vendors using well known default passwords such as admin for Linksys, Dlink and Netgear, encryption will not stop intruder access to the administration interface and gaining access to more than just your Network.
Best practice is to change your password using a complex password. If your name is Joseph, you can easily mix alpha, numeric, and special characters to make a password you will never forget such as jO$3ph!r0ut3r*
Tip #2 - Implement The Strongest Form Of Encryption - This can potentially be the weak point of your Network, since wireless signals transmit over the airways. A hacker doesn't need to be connected to the Network to steal data. Use the highest encryption available. such as WPA-Personal or WPA2 with a long pass phrase mixed with alpha-numeric and special characters.
Avoid using WEP - this is pretty easy to hack.
WEP (wireless encryption protocol) is one of the earliest form of encryption and the easiest to break. You will be at risk by not upgrading to a better wireless router, that offers newer encryption technology. If you run a home business, or use online banking, there is no excuse to protect your self by making a small investment for security.
Tip #3 Enable MAC Filtering: A MAC (Media Access Control) address is a unique identifier, similar to fingerprints for people. MAC's are assigned during the manufacturing of a network device, such as a network card or Wireless adapter. Enabling MAC Filter allows you to control which wireless-equipped Computers may or may not communicate with the Router depending on their MAC addresses and not allow any Computers that have not been added to the list.
Tip #4 - Turn off DHCP - Using DHCP is very convenient and most people leave this one turned on. However turning off DHCP can make thing very difficult for those trying to gain access to your home network.
DHCP automatically hands out IP addresses to any who successfully connects to your Network. When disabled, every computer or device must be manually assigned an IP address. All computers, printers and devices on your network will need to be manually configured with static IP addresses. The threat of just handing out access is eliminated and you gain more control over who can connect to the network.
Consider changing the router local IP address to something other than 192.168.1.1 that most wireless routers are configured by default. Use an address of 172.16.0.1 for the router and for assigning IP addresses to devices on your network. Changes to the defaults set by the router manufacture will help keep intruders guessing and keep them off the network
Tip #5 - Changing SSID name to something only you know.
Tip #6 - Disable the SSID broadcast forcing you to know the name of the wireless network you are connecting to.
Tip #7 - Turn off your wireless router when not is use
Tip #8 - Secure Your Home Laptops and Computers - Gaining access to your home xnetwork from your router is not the only entry point that exists. The web sites you visit and protocols used, if not trusted, can be an invitation to theft of identity.
What do I mean by protocol? An example of a protocol is HTTP, HTTPs, FTP, etc. When creating username and passwords on websites such as financial sites, be sure they are always using HTTPS. Some sites may try to install Malware, Java applets or ActiveX controls which could contain malicious code that can create a mess on your computer and a backdoor into your network remotely.
Make sure the site you visit is authentic by verifying the digital certificate used and NEVER respond to emails that claim to need your account information. There is a world full of scammers out there. Avoid being tricked into thinking it is your financial institute or the web site where you made a credit card purchases. Always check the URL in the browser window. Use Antivirus, Anti-Malware, and Spyware software and be sure they ares always up-to-date. And finally make sure your Computer itself has the latest patches installed. Vulnerabilities are discovered everyday and software companies routinely release patches to fixes security issues with their software.
Don't let this overwhelm you. These 8 tips will go a long way to help secure your home wireless network, and make things difficult for an attacker to gain access to your home network. Even if you just do some of these things, you are making it harder for someone to gain access to your network. Criminals will always for for the easy targets. Don't make it easy for them.
Protecting your home today involves more than just deadbolts and alarms. With technology creeping into your home everyday in the form of smart phones, tablets, gaming consoles, and the Internet of Things... securing your wires, cables and airwaves from your personal data will ensure you sleep good and that only the NSA is the ones snooping on your network.