WiFi Security: Lock Down Your Wireless Home Network

How To Set Up Wireless Security On Wireless Network

Having WiFi in your home or office is a necessity for most of us these days. Many people set up their own networks with little knowledge of how WiFi works or the dangers of low wireless security. There are different forms and methods for securing your WiFi network; you should find the method that best fits you. If you don't use one of these security methods, you make yourself a target. It's only a matter of time before someone exploits you.

Here's the issue: anyone can access your unsecured network.  There are reports across the Internet of horror stories involving unsecured WiFi.  If someone connects to your unsecured WiFi, they can do anything, which will then be traced back to your residence or office and reveal personal information.

For example, someone accessing your unsecured WiFi could use it to download or access illegal information or even commit cyber crimes. A trace of the traffic will lead authorities to your address. Once your IP address is traced as the source of this violation, you could end up being prosecuted for a crime you didn't even commit. Setting up security on your WiFi is a relatively simple process; there's no need to leave yourself open and vulnerable.

One of the most important things a person should do is take the time to learn how to set up their WiFi security to protect themselves. If you're not quite sure of the method for securing your WiFi network, there are a few simple steps below that you can follow to secure your network and protect yourself.

Finding IP Address of Router

First, you need to access your WiFi router by locating the IP address of your router. Most of the time it is either 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1.

However, if you need to figure out the IP, here's how:

In Windows you will need to load up a command prompt and enter ipconfig. Mac users will use netstat -nr and Linux users will use route. You will see something similar to the image below in Windows. What you are looking for is the “Default Gateway.” My router IP is 192.168.1.1.

Windows Command Prompt
Windows Command Prompt

Logging Into the Router

Once you get the default gateway, enter it in to your web browser's address bar. Once you enter the address, a login screen or prompt will appear. You will need the username and password for your router.

Common router default usernames and passwords are:
Linksys – Use 'admin' for both username and password.
Netgear – Use 'admin' for username and 'password' for the password.

If you used the default username or password, the next step would be to change the default password. In the "Administration" section of the Linksys router, you will find "Management," as seen below. In the "Management" area you can change your router access password.

It's essential that you keep track of this password. Losing the password means you'll have to reset the router to factory defaults; all your settings will be lost. Once this is finished, be sure to save your settings.

Administration Setting of a Linksys Router
Administration Setting of a Linksys Router

Setting Up Wireless Security With the Router

The next step would be to secure your WiFi. If you click "Wireless" at the top and go in to the "Wireless Security" section, you will see a screen similar to the image below. Once there, select which security mode you wish to use. I recommend using WPA2 with AES algorithms.

You can set the WPA Shared Key to something you will remember, but as with all passwords, the more complex you make it with caps and special characters, the more secure it is. Make sure to save your settings.

Secure Your WiFi
Secure Your WiFi

Remember that all new devices should support WPA2 security, but some legacy items may not. If you have legacy items you want to use, but you're having trouble connecting them to your WiFi, you can try securing with WEP or WPA. It's best not to use them unless you have to.

Creation of MAC Address

Another method to secure your network, and maybe the most secure way, would be to create a MAC address list of all of your devices. Under the same Wireless section as before, next to "Wireless Security," you will see "Wireless MAC filter" section.

If you enable this feature you can tell your router to only permit the MAC addresses listed to access your wireless network. Some people only use this method without any other form of security. See below for an example of what that section may look like:

Wireless Mac Filter
Wireless Mac Filter

Regardless of which method you choose, know that doing something is better than doing nothing. If you take these few steps to secure your WiFi and Internet connection you are protecting your computers, your network, your data, and, most importantly, yourself from unwanted attacks or problems.

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