Security for your Wireless Connection

Unlike a DSL, Cable, or dial-up internet connection, wireless hot-spots are viewable to all computers within range. The key is making them inaccessible.

New routers have built in default security configurations, that by default do not provide access to all users. But you may not be so fortunate with an older router.

Here are some key points to keep your wireless internet connection secure:

Choose a Strong Default Password

Every router comes with a default administrative password. This password allows complete control of your router. These passwords are widely published on the internet include manufacturers websites. These passwords should be changed as soon as possible. When selecting a new password make sure you choose a "strong password". Strong passowords have the following characteristics:

  • Passwords should be at least 8 characters in length
  • Use symbols, numbers, and combination of upper and lower case chracters
  • Avoid using familiar names (pets/family), dictionary words, or other easily guessed passwords

Turn on Encryption

Wireless routers come equipted with signal encryption. This encodes the transmission from the hotspot to your client device. This encryption is not infallible, but provides a strong level of defense against signal snooping.

Disable Service Set Indentifier Broadcast

Service Set Indentifier (SSID) is the name of your wireless network. By disabling SSID the name of the network will not be visible to other users within the hotspot range. This will reduce the number of attempts to access your network.

Each router manufacturer stores the disable SSID feature in a different place on the router admin screen. Use your manual, or your router manufacturers online guide to find out how to disable this feature.

Filter by MAC Address

A MAC address is a unique* identifier NICs and network adapters use for identification. Routers allow you to limit access by MAC address. Entering these unique identifiers into the router access list means only devices that you have explicitly added to the router interface will have access to the WiFI signal.

Enable Firewall on the Router

Modern network routers contain built-in firewall capability, but the option also exists to disable them. Ensure that your router's firewall is turned on. For extra protection, consider installing and running personal firewall software on each computer connected to the router.

Establish Physical Security for the Router

What good is a securely set-up router stored in an insecure place? Leaving a router outside, or by an easily accessible window is often done when users wish to have internet access in places like their patio or garage, this can be a costly mistake and exploited by opportunistic thieves.

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