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Five Ways to Keep Your Wireless Network Secure

wirelesssecurity-300x236Leaving your WiFi network unsecured is a bit like leaving your front door unlocked. If you don’t take precautions, information transmitted over WiFi could be intercepted. Additionally, others may be able to use your network and slow down your connection. Here are five ways to help ensure your wireless network is secure.

Use Encryption.

The most common way to protect a wireless network is to enable the wireless router’s built-in encryption options. The computers and devices you want to be able to access your network are set up so that they can unscramble the wireless signal – meaning that you can connect to the wireless network without any problems.

There are two ways to encrypt your router’s signal – WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) and WPA (WiFi Protected Access).  There’s also an enhanced version of WPA, known as WPA2. This is even more secure than the previous version. Although WEP does encrypt data, it is no longer recommended because it can easily be hacked.  WPA2 is the preferred choice and works with the latest wireless devices. WPA or WPA2 encryption, combined with a unique passphrase, makes it almost impossible for any unauthorized users to gain access to your wireless network.

Use MAC address-based access control.

This is an advanced security option that allows computers and other devices to connect to a wireless network, but only if they have an authorized MAC (Media Access Control) address. This is a series of letters and numbers used to identify network devices.  Wireless routers can be instructed to allow connections only from a list of MAC addresses that you supply. To use this method, you need to gather together a list of all the MAC addresses of the computers and devices you wish to authorize on your wireless network, and enter the details into your wireless router’s administration interface.

Set a password for your wireless router’s administration interface.

Most wireless routers have a default username and password that can be used to access a set of administration screens that control the operation of the router. By changing the default password you can reduce the chances of anyone other than you accessing this administration interface and changing the router’s settings.  To set the password for your wireless router’s administration interface, you first need to access the interface using the default username and password, which should be printed on the base of your wireless router or on the side of the Hub.

Disable broadcast of SSID.

Every wireless router is preconfigured with its own Service Set Identifier (SSID), and this is what you and other users will see when scanning for available wireless networks. The list of names shown is all the networks your computer or device is able to ‘see’. One way of protecting your wireless network is to stop the transmission of your SSID. This makes your wireless network invisible to other people that might be within its reach.  Stopping the broadcast of your SSID doesn’t guarantee that your wireless network is secure, and isn’t a substitute for using a strong encryption method, but it can provide an extra layer of protection.  To disable the broadcast of your wireless router’s SSID, you need to access your wireless router’s administration interface.

Keep programs up-to-date.

Make sure that you are keeping all of your programs as well as your browsers current.  Make sure that all of your antivirus and antispyware software is turned on and up to date.  By doing this you will be making sure that all of your programs have the most up to date security against unwanted hackers.

These five precautions are relatively quick and simple, and they can save you from a great deal of trouble. For more information on other types of Internet security, you may want to read, “How to Create a Strong Password.”

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