Summary: Just about everyone has a wireless network at home, work, or both. Although you probably turned encryption on, at least we hope you did, there are other steps you should take to secure your network.
None of them are difficult and all of them are important. Read on, follow our advice, and keep the bad guys out of your network!
How to Secure Your Wireless Network
If you plugged your wireless router in, turned it on, and connected all your devices to it – shame on you! You have left yourself wide open to hackers and criminals. Hopefully you at least turned encryption on, but just in case, here are some simple steps to secure your wireless network.
Encryption is a Must!
As we mentioned above, hopefully you turned encryption on. If you didn’t, log back into your router away and enable it.
You see, most wireless routers come with encryption disabled. So, to turn it on you have to log into the router and change the settings.
Your router probably comes with at least a couple encryption options. You will most likely be able to choose from WPA2 and WEP, and possibly more. WEP, or Wired Equivalent Privacy, isn’t as strong as other methods, so skip it.
WPA2, or WiFi Protected Access 2, is much stronger and is one of the most effective standards available. We recommend you use WPA2 and not WEP.
You will also have to pick a network key, or password. Don’t be tempted to use your address, cell phone number, or dog’s name. Pick a strong encryption key. Yes, it might be a pain when you connect your phone and tablet. It’s worth it though. Pick a weak password and your neighbors could be using your WiFi before you know it.
Don’t wait, go do it now!
Don’t Forget the Firewall
Most wireless routers also come equipped with a firewall. Like encryption though, the firewall is usually disabled.
A firewall is another layer of protection for your network, so don’t disregard it. While you are configuring encryption you can also enable the firewall.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to come up with another password. Just turn it on and take advantage of the built-in feature.
Change Default Settings
Whether you realize it or not, your wireless router came with several default settings, including the router’s network name and administrator password. Trust me on this one, even if you don’t know it the hackers and criminals do.
You need to change SSID, or Service Set Identifier, which is the name of your wireless network. Again, no addresses, cell phone numbers, names, etc. Use something unique that you will recognize when you connect a new device.
You also need to change the default administrator password. Yes, you have to use a strong password, again. I know, I know…it’s a pain. This is a must, though. The bad guys know the default passwords for all the routers out there. If you don’t change it, they will be able to get into your router and do all kinds of bad things.
Take the time and change the networks name (SSID) and default password. This is another very important step in securing your WiFi network.
Turn Off Name Broadcasting
If you look through your wireless router’s settings you will find an option for broadcasting your network name. Go ahead and turn that off. This way, if someone is going around snooping for WiFi networks, they won’t see yours.
You know the name of your network, so there is no need to broadcast it. After all, you changed the name (SSID) just a few moments ago, right? Right?? So, when it comes time to connect a device just type the name in, then the (strong) network key, and you are surfing your wireless network – securely!
Use MAC Address Filtering
Another great way to secure your WiFi network is with MAC address filtering. To do this, once you have connected your devices go into the router settings and find the MAC address options.
Set the option to only allow recognized devices to connect. In other words, only devices you connected to the network are allowed in. Since each of your device has a unique MAC address, it does, I promise, your network will allow only those devices to connect.
Even if someone discovers your network name and somehow breaks the incredibly complex password you created, they won’t be allowed to connect because the router will reject their device.
Just remember this setting. If you go to connect a new device later, it will also get rejected. You will be able to connect the device by adding its MAC address to your router’s settings though, so don’t fret.
You Now Have a Secure WiFi Network
If you have followed the steps we laid out your network is much more secure than it was 30 minutes ago.
These are all important steps too. Encryption, changing default names and passwords, and setting up MAC address filtering are all vital to securing your network.
Identity theft and privacy invasions are not decreasing every day. Quite the opposite, in fact. You need to do anything and everything you can to prevent yourself from becoming another statistic.
Good luck with securing your WiFi network and stay tuned for more tips about cyber security.