Securing your home wireless network
With the growth of wireless internet networks in private homes, caution must be taken to be sure that your network is “secure.” What “secure” means in this instance is that your network is not available to be accessed by persons outside of your family, of visitors to your home to whom you have given temporary access.
What is a Home Wireless Network?
Networks are set up by connecting a piece of equipment called a “router” to your modem.” The router broadcasts a signal throughout your house that creates that can be picked up by your computers, smart phones, and tablets, providing access to the high speed Internet signal coming in to your modem.
The Danger of an Unprotected Network
While home networks have reached the point where they can be set up by nearly any skill level of user, not as many people are not aware of the dangers of not having their network secure, nor the steps they can take to make their network secure from intruders. An unprotected network could permit malicious ‘hackers’ to gain access to your data. In essence, accessing everything on your home computers by coming in through a “back door.”
Setting Up and Securing Your Network
Once your router is connected to your modem, follow the instructions which will allow you to change certain settings on the router. Generally this is accomplished via a secure website that the router manufacturer describes in the documentation that comes with the router.
Router Identification Names
Each router has an identification name. The default name is set by the manufacturer and is generally the name of the router manufacturer. The first step in securing your network is to change the name of your router, to a unique word that is not easily guessed. The identification name is also referred to as the SSID (service set identifier). An important option at this step is to “disable the SSID broadcast.” What this means is when people sign on their computers near your network, and see a list of available networks in the area, your network will not be listed.
The router will come with a preset password as well, and of course you should change the password to something that also cannot be easily guessed. Neither the router’s identification name or the password should be something easy like your last name, or house address. Like any user name or passwords, they should be something easily remembered by you and your family, but not something that neighbors or strangers could obtain after several attempts of trying to log on to your network.
As the technology of routers has advanced, so have the different types of security available within routers. This “security” allows the network to communicate with your computer, as you have “told” your computer to recognize the type of security that the router is transmitting with.
While the router will give you several different options of security to choose from, if it is available designate the security level as WPA2; WPA would be your second choice. These two options offer the most secure methods of protecting your network.
You may, as an option, set up a separate “guest password” for when visitors come to your house; this is in lieu of you providing them with your own personal password, as they would have the ability to access your network after they visit. Depending on the type and quality of the router, some networks “broadcast” beyond the walls of your house, providing you with another reason to protect the network as best as you can.
A firewall is an additional layer of protection. In the event someone has gained access to your network, a firewall prevents them from using your computer to send out malicious emails or other data. Most computers have built in firewall software, and it is just a matter of choosing the option to turn it on. Many computers will prompt you if you shut your firewall off, and advise you that it is not the best idea.
As with any password advice you read, for any device or service, you should consider changing your router password from time to time. Of course, you will have to remember to advise your family members of the new password.