Securing a home wireless network is a two step process. The first step is to ensure network security by securing the wireless access point or router. All of this can normally be done through the web based software interface of the device, by typing in the default address of ‘192.168.0.1’.
The first thing that needs to be changed is administrator username and password. Many networks are hacked into, simply because nobody bothered changing the default values. This is the same as most VCRs still blinking 12:00 because no one changed the time. Once this is done, enable MAC address filtering, and add computers based on their MAC address. This option will allow only those specified computers to connect to the network, but will not however guarantee total security.
The network SSID defines a name for the network. The default value of this should be changed to an obscure and long string. This value should be written down in a safe place and entered into the machines that are allowed to connect. Disabling the broadcast of the network SSID also provides an extra layer of security as the network will not advertise itself to outsiders.
Encryption should also be enabled. The default encryption is normally weak and can be easily broken. Normally WEP (Wireless Equivalent Privacy) is used for data encryption, however where available try and use WPA-PSK encryption. This method uses 256 bit encryption for transmitting data and the key also changes so provides a far more secure alternative to WEP.
Some routers have firewalls built in. Where available make sure that this option is enabled.
The second step of securing a home wireless network is securing each individual’s PC. This can be done by installing a software firewall (this may not always be necessary if a hardware firewall is installed), antivirus software, anti-spam and pop-up blocking software. It is essential to keep this software up to date, as downloading the latest security updates for the operating system and web browser you are using.
You can manage your home network yourself if you have the time, or you can buy a home networking software that will monitor your network and alert you to any intruders or weak security measures for about $30. Whichever way you choose to do it make sure you secure your home wireless network.