A couple of months ago I purchased my first wireless enabled laptop. As I switched it on and began setting it up I was shocked when I realized that my laptop had found and connected to my neighbours wireless modem and I was able to freely browse the internet and download data using his modem and internet connection. If I were a hacker it would not be difficult for me to hack in to his computer using this connection to his network.

The Shocking Truth

The shocking truth is that many wireless network users out there, and you could be one of them, are not securing their wireless modems at all. This is further confirmed by a television program I saw in which a television presenter drove down a street until he found a signal from an unsecured wireless router being used in a nearby house. He then hacked into this mans computer and recorded his entire Internet activity including websites visited, items purchase, holidays booked, passwords and even credit card details. When the unsuspecting computer user was confronted with the information gathered about him he was understandably upset. He had been sold the modem with security software by a high street store that had told him that this would provide adequate security. They were wrong!

How to Secure Your Wireless Network

Although every wireless router is different and will have its own instructions these can sometimes be hard to follow, the steps below will help to guide you through the process.

Set Up Your Modem Password

Every router can be set-up by using your browser to access it by typing in its IP address. This IP address can be found in your router instructions and will be something like this:

[http://192.168.1.1]

When you have input this address into your browser and pressed enter you will be taken to a login page where you must input the user name password. By default the router will have a generic password which you will also find in your instructions. Login using the default details and then navigate to the ‘change password’ page where you can change it to your own secret password.

If you do not do this, a hacker could gain access using the generic password. After any changes have been made you must apply the changes and restart your router. Your instructions will tell you how to do this.

2. Configure Your Router for Data Encryption

Login to your router as outlined above and browse to the security page where you can set-up your security type and input a cipher key. Most of the settings in these pages should be left as they are if you don’t know what you are doing. You can usually choose between different types of security, such as WEP, 802.1 or WPA. There are different opinions as to, which is best, I personally use WEP. If there is an ‘enable WEP wireless security’ check box or similar you must check it. You will then need to make up a cipher key using hexadecimal digits, which consist of random numbers from 1-9 and letters from A-F. I recommend a minimum of 128 bit encryption which will need a 26 digit key. If you wish to use 256 bit encryption your key will have to be 58 digits long. Input this key into the form provided and make a note of it for setting up your other computers. As stated above you will now need to apply any changes made and restart your router.

3. Configure Your Wireless Enabled Computers

After setting up the above encryption on your wireless network you will then need to input your new cipher key into each wireless computer that you want to connect to the network. Your other wireless enabled computers will search for any wireless network it can find and then ask if you would like to connect. If you attempt to connect to a newly set-up encrypted network it will ask you for the cipher key. Input the cipher key you made up in the previous section and click ‘connect‘. When doing this for the first time it may take a while for the new configuration to take effect so be patient before trying to use it. The next time you boot up your wireless computer it will connect automatically.

4. Install Internet Security Software

Whether you have a wireless network or not, it is essential nowadays to protect you computer by using good quality internet securities software. Purchasing this from a reputable security company is recommended to ensure that your software is kept up to date with the most recent virus signatures. If you are not up to date, an unrecognised virus will not be stopped by the software. It is not advisable to use a free anti-virus service as these do not provide adequate protection and are a false economy. Security software will also detect and block any attempt to hack into your computer via the internet or local network. Recommended internet security software companies are – Norton, McAfee and others.

Conclusion

In short then, following the above procedures will make it very difficult for the would be hacker to use your wireless network to gain access to your computer. I also strongly advise you to read your wireless router manual thoroughly.


Source by Drew Pilton