Secure your Wireless Network

lock2I am amazed at the number of households still using unsecured wireless networks. If you drive through a residential area with your PDA or laptop, you’ll see that there are many networks around that you can easily connect to. Someone with advanced computer knowledge could use this and access your private files. Others could simply surf the Internet for free.

If you don’t want your neighbors to use your Internet connection and download movies, then you should protect your network with an advanced security protocol and an encrypted password. This may sound highly technical, but it’s not that difficult to set up. Your router has in-built security options that you only have to turn on. You just have to select one of the security protocols and choose a password.

There are options such as the basic WEP protocol, but that one is not very secure. Its password is quite easy to crack. WPA-PSK and WPA-PSK2 protocols are more secure and I recommend that you use one of these. However, you can select an even stronger protocol if you are given the option.

Instructions (you must have administrator access):

Log into your router. This is done usually by typing an IP address into your browser. If you don’t know the right address, go to the Control Panel, find your Internet Connection or LAN icon, double click on it and select the Support tab. Under Support, you should see the Default Gateway address. It can look like this:

Once you type this address and log into your router/modem (type the user name and password if prompted – sometimes this is written on the bottom side of the router/modem) look for Wireless Settings. Here, you will be able to select the security protocol. Click on WPA-PSK and enter a password (for example, between 8 and 63 characters). I suggest you use a combination of letters and numbers. In some routers, you are given the option to enter a phrase and the password will be automatically generated for you. Next, click on Apply and write down the password because you’ll need it to reconnect your PC to the router.

Before you connect to the router with the password, try to do it without, just to test the new security setting. Open your wireless card software (or Windows wireless connection icon, then View Wireless Networks and try to connect to your network. You’ll have to know the name of your network if there is more than one on the list). Select your network and click Connect . If you are asked for a password, simply enter the one you wrote down earlier and confirm this in the second field. You should be able to connect again and from now on, only users/PCs with the same password will be able to connect to your network.

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