That's bad, very bad, because anyone who decides to 'tap' into your wireless network can easily steal your information (especially if you happen to do a lot of online shopping) and even steal your Internet (did I mention they can use your Internet connection to download songs illegally and get you into trouble?).
So follow this article and secure your wireless network! It is imperative for everyone who has their own wireless network in a home or small business setting to take the following steps to ensure the well being of the network.
- Give your router an admin password - Learn how to change the admin password for your router by reading the manual or checking the manufacturer's support website.
- Change your routers SSID - Your router's SSID is like its name. If you set this to default, your neighbour might be accidentally using your wireless connection or you might accidentally use your neighbour's connection (which is a crime). You want to be sure that you can distinctly identify your router and prevent others from accidentally connecting to it, which will make your Internet slower.
- Use at least WPA2 Encryption - Not using encryption is like yelling your credit card number out loud. Anyone paying attention and snooping in on your wireless network can intercept all data that goes between the wireless router and the computer. Make sure you use at least WPA2 encryption. If your router doesn't have a WPA2 option then you might want to upgrade to a newer router or check for a firmware update.
- Use a hard to break pre-shared key - Make sure it is 63 characters long and make up of random letters, number and characters. Since you don't have to remember anything (you only need to set this on your router and computer/console once) A great way to generate good passwords is to use the GRC Passwords Page. It generates a key for you automatically. I recommend you use WPA2 and use a 63 character random ASCII string. Remember, once you use the key on your router, you'll need it for your computer too, so making a text file of the key might be helpful.
- Disable SSID Broadcast - Once your set up your router and initiate the wireless network, it is a good idea to turn off the SSID so people might not get tempted to try and use your network.
- Enable MAC Address Filtering - MAC in this case means Media Access Control, not a Mac. It allows you to specify the machines (i.e. only your machine) that can connect to your network.
- Try to broadcast only in Wireless G - If possible try and broadcast only on a 802.11 G band so that people with 802.11 B hardware will not be able to connect. If you have a laptop or device that needs 802.11 B, then obviously this isn't an option.
- Make sure to turn off any extended range functionality if living in a small house. Extended range mode will only make your router send out more powerful signals and make your network susceptible to attacks.
- Change Miscellaneous settings - Disable features such as gaming mode, and enable features such as discard PING from WAN side. This will prevent an attacker from compromising your network by repeatedly pinging your router to death.
- Update Update Update - If you haven't ever updated your router's firmware, then it's high time you do so. Make sure you stay informed about the latest developments in the wireless world too.
Do the tips above make me sound like a security freak? I think not. Better safe then sorry, right? You be the judge.
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