Wireless Security

How To Secure A Wireless Network

Having WiFi in your home or office seems to be a necessity for most these days. Many people set up their own networks with little knowledge of how WiFi works or the dangers of low wireless security. While there are different forms and methods for securing your WiFi network it just depends on what method is the best fit for you. If you do not implement one of these methods of security you are essentially a target and it is only a matter of time before someone exploits you.

If your network is unsecured anyone can access it and do whatever they wish. There are reports across the internet of horror stories involving unsecured WiFi. Once someone has connected to your WiFi anything they do is traced back to your residence or office. An example of this would be that 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 and you could end up being prosecuted for a crime you didn't even commit. Since setting up security on your WiFi is a relatively simple process there is no reason to leave yourself open to possible exploitation.

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 are unsure of the method for securing your WiFi network there are a few simple steps below that you can follow to set up your security.

First thing, 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


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

Common router default user names and passwords are:
Linksys – Use admin for both user name and password.
Netgear – Use admin for user name and password for the password.

If you used the default user name or password the next step would be to change the default password. Seen below, in the "Administration" section of the Linksys router you will find "Management." In the "Management" area you can change your router access password. Make sure to keep track of this password. If the password is lost you will have to reset the router to factory defaults and lose all your settings. Once this is finished be sure to save your settings.

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

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 would like to recommend using WPA2 with AES algorithms. You can set the WPA Shared Key to something you will remember but 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

I would like to point out that all new devices should support WPA2 security but some legacy items may not. If you have legacy items you wish to use you may want to try securing with WPA or WEP if you have difficulties connecting them to your WiFi. I don't recommend using them unless you have to.

Another method to secure your network (perhaps 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. An example of what that section may look like in your router may be seen below.

Wireless Mac Filter
Wireless Mac Filter

No matter which method you use to secure your WiFi network it is better than no security at all. If you take these few steps to secure your WiFi you are protecting your computers, your network, your data, and most importantly yourself from unwanted attacks or problems.

If you’ve still got questions, feel free to post them in our Router Security Section.