Secure Your Wireless Network

Secure Your Wireless Network

Having a Wireless modem in your house has it’s benefits. Checking email, playing PSP, Mobile OS applications, surfing the net from your lounge suite or bed all has it’s advantages. The sad part of this technology is almost 30% of users get the installation wrong leaving insecure Wireless or Free Broadband for the rest of us. While I write this article, there are currently 3 users who are using insecure wireless networks around me.

This article will educate you on the basics of securing your Wireless Broadband at home. Having a cordless phones, mobile phone and wireless-enabled applications operate on the principle that the less cords, the better the experience. Wireless networks are great to use, however they can also be easy to hack if you don’t have the proper security settings or software running in the background. By default most wireless networks out of the box are insecure. You must read the manual to find out the different settings required to secure your wireless networks. The list below are the basics to keep intrusion into your network limited.

Step 1: You must know your current network setup

Wireless technology transmits data using radio waves from one application to another. The signal carrying your data are transmitted over a wide distance sometimes Kilometers. Without simple security measures in place, anyone with the right tools can reach out and encrypt, steal and hack your data. Insecure Wireless is the most common form of intrusion to private networks.

Step 2: Change your SSID and User Password

SSID stands for service set identification number. Every wireless network, from large corporate systems to simple home setups, contains a SSID. SSID is your networks digital name. First, change your SSID number and password from the default setting into something private and strong. Never keep the default SSID active. To change the SSID and your network password, launch the software for your wireless hardware. You should be able to change your SSID within the program’s control panel. Overwriting the default SSID won’t do you much good if your network name is broadcasted to all users in your area. You can keep your information private to all users around your area by disabling the SSID broadcast. It’s as simple as ticking a box from your modem control panel.

Step 3: Set up MAC filtering

Media Access Control or MAC – A 12 digit address attached to network device. Pocket PC’s PSP, Laptops, Desktop etc all have a MAC address. it can be hard to find a MAC address depending on the hardware used. However the time spent securing this section will prevent hackers from walking straight into your network and stealing information. For Windows desktop users click Start, then Run, then type cmd in the text box. The type ipconfig/all in the Dos Window. 12 digit Physical Address is the MAC address. Basically the MAC filters devices from accessing your wireless modem. By identifying who can access your wireless modem adds a further security layer to your network. To enable MAC filtering, open your wireless modem software and enter the MAC address of those hardware you grant access to. Usually found under Security Settings of your modem control panel.

Step 4: Encrypt and Scramble Your Data

Two common encryption protocols are WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) and WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access). Both protocols scramble your data and block unwanted visitors from entering your network. WPA is seen to be regarded as more secure than WEP due to the ever changing pass key. However the WPA is not known by all devices and is subject to the current hardware and device configuration. WPA is generally built into most routers along with WEP encryption. It’s very important to make sure your device connecting supports WPA encryption. If not using WEP and MAC filtering will deter most intrusions from hackers.

Step 5: Education and Software

Stay informed – Always read up on Wireless security. Some great articles online to keep ahead of Internet security. Every month check for updates to your wireless modem. Keep your desktop up-to-date with the latest updates from Microsoft or Linux. Download third party software such as Zone Alarm to help intrusion detection and monitor your wireless transmissions at all times. More third party software choices will be added shortly including an article on WarDriving.