How Secure Is Your Home Wi-Fi Network?

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How secure is your home Wi-Fi network? Take a moment to check as there are reasons that make it essential for you to keep it at optimum levels. Unsecure network can allow anyone in close range to gain unauthorized access to your Internet connection. Associated problems include rather benign ones like Internet speed going down and really harmful ones like hacking for illegal activities.

However, ensuring optimal security of your home Wi-Fi network is no rocket science by any means. Here is a list of things you need to check and correct if required for your 802.11 b/g/n network.

Have you setup router access password?

By far the most obvious one, however, missed out quite often. So the moment you install a new router, make sure to setup one. Here are a few aspects to keep in mind:

  • Don’t use easily guessed passwords such as “ABC123” or “abc123”.
  • Use a random string of characters (a combination of alphabets in upper and lower case as well as numbers).
  • The longer the key, the better. So use the maximum length allowed.
  • Finally, special characters are not allowed, so don’t waste time in using them.

You can also reset the router password in case you’ve forgotten one. Just press the reset button (all routers have one) to get the job done. You need to reconfigure the router to its present settings though. Get the default username and password from the router manual or the sticker on the bottom of the router.

Here’s how you can change your default username and password.

  1. Enter the router’s local IP address. You can check the same from this list if you don’t know the one for your router.
  2. Click Administration.
  3. In the Router Password textbox key-in your new password.
  4. In the Reconfirm Password textbox confirm the same.
  5. Click Save Settings.

Have you enabled WPA/WPA2 Encryption in your router?

Although WPA works fine, WPA2 is the more current one and is therefore highly recommended. If your router does not support WPA2 encryption, you are advised to upgrade to a newer one.

Here’s how you can setup a WPA/WPA2 encryption in your router. Although the basic steps remain the same, certain specific clicks may vary.

  1. Enter the router’s local IP address.
  2. Enter your router’s Username and Password.
  3. On the setup page, click the Wireless tab, then click Wireless Security sub-tab (only in Linksys routers. Other routers such as D-Link you may require to click Wireless Settings.)
  4. On the Configuration View section, click Manual (only in Linksys routers; for D-link routers click Manual Wireless Network Setup.)
  5. Select the encryption type from the Security Mode drop-down. WPA Personal, WPA2 Personal, and WPA2/WPA Mixed Mode are highly recommended.
  6. Enter the passphrase. A passphrase must consist of a minimum of 8 characters and is case sensitive.
  7. Click Save Settings.

Have you changed the SSID?

A default Service Set Identifier (SSID) indicates to a hacker that a Wi-Fi is configured by a novice. You don’t want to give that impression; do you? So change the default set identifier to something unique.

Here’s how you can do it.

  1. Login to your router’s administration console.
  2. Navigate to the router’s Settings page. (For Linksys it’s Wireless->Basic Wireless Settings; For D-Link its Home->Wireless)
  3. The Wireless Network Name (SSID) textbox contains the default SSID. Change it to something unique that you can identify as well.
  4. Click Save Settings.

Have you enabled MAC filtering?

Every wireless networking card comes with a unique MAC address. What MAC address filtering does is it registers the hardware’s MAC address in the MAC address table. Subsequently, only devices with known MAC address can connect to your network.

If you enable MAC address filtering in your router, whenever it receives a join request from a device outside its network, it finds the MAC address of that device in MAC address table. If the entry is present, authentication is successful and the request is accepted, else it’s denied. In nutshell, MAC address filtering provides an additional level of security to your router. So it’s worth to enable it.

Here’s how you enable MAC address filtering if you have a Linksys router:

  • Login to your router’s administrative console.
  • Select the Advanced tab.
  • Select the Wireless tab.
  • Select Restrict Access in the Wireless Network Access dropdown list.
  • Click the Edit Access List button. The MAC Address list will be displayed.
  • You can:
    • Select the devices you wish to permit access. Simply check the box in the Enable MAC filter column.
    • Add new devices by clicking Add new or Add button. You should have the MAC address of the device to be added.
    • Click Save.

Have you disabled wireless administering?

You may not be comfortable with this change. However, still it’s worth a consideration as turning wireless administration to off will disable any wireless hacking attempt on your router. The downside is that you will require a LAN cable to administer your network from hereon.

Here’s how you can disable wireless administering in a Linksys router:

  • Login to your router’s administrative console.
  • Click Administration.
  • In Remote Router Access tab, click Disable under Remote Management.
  • Click Save Settings.

So the next time you plan to configure your router, consider implementing the recommended changes.

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