Having your own wireless router is a great way to connect multiple computers to the Internet. But securing it can be a bit of a hassle.
So you have just bought a wireless router, and now all of your computers can access the Internet without cables. That’s great. But you still have some work to do.
Change Your Router Password
Most wireless routers ship out with an easy to guess password like “admin”, or nothing at all. To create your unique password, you’ll need to find out the ip address of your router. An ip address is simply a bunch of numbers like 192.168.2.2 that act like a web page. The instruction manual that comes with your wireless router should have the ip address for your router on it somewhere.
The ip address will tell you all about your router, the security settings; etc. In fact, all of the following information in this article can be accessed from your router’s ip address. The first time you access this page you’ll need to enter the router’s easy to guess password. After this is done, you should immediately change your router’s password to something more complicated.
Make your password difficult for hackers to guess. Do not make it a logical word that you find in the dictionary because that will just make it easier to crack. You should use numbers, special characters; upper case and lowercase letters. As for how long you should make the password, try and make it around twelve characters or more. Oh, and do write it down. If you should forget this password, then you will be locked out of your wireless routers’ settings. And that’s no fun.
Encrypting the signal that your wireless router broadcasts will make it more difficult for your neighbors to steal your wifi signal. Enabling encryption is a fairly simple process that will oftentimes be done via the CD that comes with your wireless router. If no CD came with your router, then you will just have to use the ip address for your router again.
As for the type of encryption that you should use, currently WAP or WAP2 is best. If you have the option, you should enable AES encryption instead of TKIP to be even more secure. Whatever you do, do not use WEP encryption. It’s far too easy to hack into. Also, you will have to have another password to enable encryption. You should not use the same password that you used to secure your router. This new password that you will be using will have to be installed on all of the machines that will be connecting to your wireless network.
This password can be installed manually by you via keystrokes, or you can use a flash drive media device to install the password on all of the machines (no typing). Just so you know, you will not have to enter this password every time you try to access the Internet. Just once. However, if you alter some of the settings in the wireless router then you may have to enter the password again.
And of course, if you should change the password for the encryption then you will need to adjust it for all of the other computers. It can be a pain, especially if you have a lot of devices connecting to your wireless network. Keep in mind that since this password only has to be entered one time on all of your computers, you would benefit greatly by making it an incredibly long and complicated password (be sure to write it down as well). The maximum number of characters for many router passwords is around sixty-four or so. It would behoove you to not take advantage of this. In fact, there are many websites that have a character combo software program that will randomly generate your password. To see one of these, click here.
Enable the Firewall
This is a no brainer. Almost everyone knows what a firewall does. But if you’re not a technical type of person, then just know that a firewall helps to shield your computer from viruses, trojans; etc. Bad stuff. By default, the firewall option should already be active in most modern wireless routers. But if you notice that yours is not, then you really should turn it on.
Once the firewall for your wireless router is enabled, you can choose to disable or uninstall any software firewalls that you may have been using (like Zonealarm). It is not a requirement, though. If you feel more comfortable having a software firewall around, then you can choose to leave it on. It may cause you some grief though if it interferes with your router’s connection. Your choice. Also should you ever be in a public wifi zone with your computer, it might be nice to have an active software firewall. Or at least a disabled one that can be turned back on.
Activate Mac Address Filtering
Using mac address filtering basically just creates another level of security for you. A mac address, simply put, is a random set of characters (38:83:A3:22:05:U3). Each computer or electronic device will have a different mac address. These mac addresses are quite difficult to guess, and as such, hackers have a difficult time trying to figure out what they are. So you could say that your mac address is another type of password. Just remember that you can not change your mac address, but it’s still very important when it comes to adding another layer of security for your wireless network.
WAN Ping Blocking
Hackers oftentimes ping various electronic devices (like your wireless router) in order to find a weakness that they can exploit. But if you enable WAN ping blocking, then the hackers will not take notice of your wireless routers signal. This doesn’t make you one hundred percent secure (not by a long shot), but every little bit helps.
Okay, this one is debatable. If you choose to hide your SSID address, then whatever network name you have chosen will not show up on other computers. Your network will be hidden. In fact, even your own computers will not see your network. You will need to manually inform each of your electronic devices as to the name and location of your network. However, hackers have software tools that can easily locate hidden networks. And this kind of takes the point away from hiding your network. Plus, hiding your network can slow down connection times. So it may not be worth the effort.
The Kill Switch
Remember the router password that was discussed earlier in this incredibly long article? Well, if you should lose it then you will no longer be able to access the settings on your wireless router. This is not a huge deal if everything is working perfectly. But if you should have problems, then you will need to access your wireless router. There are two solutions to this. The first one is to try and guess your password; thus, you are now trying to hack your own network.
A better option is for you to simply reset your router to the factory default settings. To do this, you need to locate a small button that is normally on the back of your router. After you find the button, simply insert a small paper clip into it and gently push the button to reset the router. It should take between five and ten seconds for the router to reset itself.
If successful, all of the glowing buttons on your router should vanish and then return in under a minute’s time. Unfortunately, you will have to reconfigure everything. This means you need to create a password for your router, the encryption, the mac addresses need to be re-entered; etc. Everything. Though, you can use the same passwords as you did before, so that’s one less thing for you to think about.
Creating a secure wireless network can be a bit of a pain, but it’s worth it in the end. The idea of someone accessing your wireless network and doing all sorts of nefarious things to it is a far greater pain. But it’s your network.