Just as you wouldn’t allow strangers to use your gas or electricity, free-loaders should be stopped from accessing your wireless network. If a complete stranger, or one of your neighbours were able to access your wireless network, they could steal your bandwidth and use up your monthly data allowance, or potentially gain access to your private data. In the most extreme cases, your connection could be used by a would-be hacker for more unsavoury things, such as that of Barry Ardolf, who hacked into his neighbours WiFi network and used it to view child porn in an attempt to frame them.
Today I’m going to show how to secure a wireless network to prevent any of those things happening to you!
How To Secure A Wireless Network
Before I begin to tell you of the different things you can do to make your WiFi connection more secure, you should login to your router’s setup or configuration page. This is done by typing your router’s IP address into the address bar of your internet browser (ie. Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer). The IP address of your router will depend on the type of router you use.
In any case, you can find your router’s IP address by using the command line. To do so, go to the start menu and type CMD in the search box if you are using Windows Vista or Windows 7, or in the Run box if your are using Windows XP.
You will now see the command line interface. Typing ipconfig will display various network related information, your router’s IP address will be listed as Default Gateway.
Next you will see a login box asking for your user name and password. If you haven’t changed this, the default username should be admin, and the default password will either be admin or password. Your login details may also be printed on the back or underside of your router. In the unlikely even of you not being able to access your router’s configuration page, you can contact your internet service provider.
How To Secure A Wireless Network Using Better Encryption
When data is sent between your wireless router and your PC or mobile device, the data is usually encrypted. However, most routers are shipped with either WEP (Wired Protect Access) or no encryption at all. WEP makes the novice user think the are safe because they are using a password, but a WEP password can be cracked in as little as a few minutes, and the information to do so can be found all over the internet very easily.
Ideally you should be using WPA2, or WPA if WPA2 isn’t an option, which is unlikely. If you see an option for WPA + WP2, you can select this for compatibility.
Due to the differences between different routers, I wont be able to give you specifics as to how you can do this, but you should have no trouble finding the option if you look around the the different areas of your routers advanced configuration or setup page.
Change The Router’s Password
As mentioned above, access points and routers normally use a default password for logging into the setup page. Even amateur Hackers know these defaults, so changing the login credentials is a good way to secure a wireless network.
How To Secure A Wireless Network By Disabling SSID broadcast
By default, most wireless devices such as a router or an access point is set to broadcast the SSID (Service Set Identifier), so anyone can easily join the network. Unless you’re running a public hotspot, you should disable SSID broadcast. It’s easy to find this option.
Enable MAC address filtering
As well as changing the encryption type, this is one of the best ways to secure a wireless network. The MAC address, or Media Access Control address is a unique address given to network interfaces. You can find your PC’s MAC address in the command-line interface by typing ipconfig in CMD, as mentioned above. For mobile devices such as the iPhone, you can find the MAC by going to Settings > General > About.
That’s how to secure a wireless network, you might also be interested in How To Make Your Internet Faster.