With the falling costs of high-speed internet connections and wireless routers, there are a lot of people who are setting up wireless networks, both at their home and office. This has brought both a lot of convenience and security threats.
Believe it or not, it’s really easy to get into a wireless network. The basic wireless network connection program that is in WindowsXP will find most wireless networks. More advanced programs like NetStumbler find networks even faster.
Someone having access to your wireless network in and of iteself isn’t a terrible thing, but there are a number of malicious things that people can do once on your network. Even if all of your other computers are off, someone could still use your internet connection to anonymously do something illegal. Of more immediate concern is the potential that people could have access to your personal files, such as financial records.
So what can you do to protect your wirelss? Change the default settings! To do this, you simply log into your wireless router and change a couple of things. The process to do this varies by brand, but it will be something like this. Open your internet browser and type in 192.168.1.1. You don’t need a user name and the password is typically admin.
Once in, the first thing you should do is change the password. This will keep people from being able to change settings and blocking you from accessing your own network. I don’t think most people do this. I’ve driven around just to see how many wireless networks I could find. When I’ve done this, about 40-50% of the network I find I can get on. On top of that, if I wanted to I could have messed up people’s connection.
Ok, after you’ve canged the password you can do a couple other things to protect your network. First, add WEP protection. WEP is a password based encryption for your network. You will need to enter the same WEP key on any computer you use to access the wireless network. Next, change the SSID (service set identifier). You can call your network anything you want. Lastly, turn off SSID broadcast.
These few steps will make your wireless network more secure. There are still ways that people can break through these basic settings, but not many people can do that. You’ll be protected from most everyone except the really good hackers.