Wireless Router Security A Step By Step Guide

Wireless Router Security A Step By Step Guide

Wireless Router & Security: a​ Step-By-Step Guide
Setting up a​ wireless router is​ easy .​
Essentially you turn your cable or​ DSL modem off and​ your wireless router on .​
Then, you connect the​ router to​ the​ modem with a​ cable, and​ turn the​ modem back on .​
You are more or​ less done .​
The wireless network wizard on your computer will pick up the​ router and, if​ your ISP does not have any special requirements, away-you-go, you are on the​ Internet .​
For ease of​ setup and​ configuration, manufacturers ship wireless routers with all security disabled .​
Therein lies the​ problem .​
If you do not take any further steps to​ secure your router, and​ a​ surprising number of​ people don’t, your network will be wide open to​ all passersby and​ strangers .​
It’s like you’ve hung out a​ sign, the​ door is​ open .​
Please come in​ and​ help yourself .​
The problem is​ not that strangers will be able to​ use your router to​ access the​ Internet but that, without further protection, would-be intruders will be able monitor and​ sniff out information you send and​ receive on your network .​
Malicious intruders can even hop on to​ your internal network; access your hard drives; and, steal, edit, or​ delete files on your computer .​
The good news is​ that it​ is​ relatively easy to​ secure your wireless router .​
Here are three basic steps you should take .​
1 .​
Password protect the​ access to​ your router’s internal configuration
To access your router’s internal setup, open a​ browser and​ enter the​ routers setup URL .​
The URL will be specified in​ the​ manual .​
The URLs for​ D-Link and​ Linksys routers, two major manufacturers of​ wireless routers, are and​, respectively .​
For Linksys routers, leave the​ user name blank and​ type admin (without the​ quotes) in​ the​ password field and​ press enter .​
To change the​ password, simply click on the​ Password tab and​ enter your new password .​
For other routers, please consult your manual .​
Alternately, you can search on the​ Internet with the​ term default login for​ .​
Don’t be surprised to​ find quite a​ number of​ pages listing default login parameters for​ many different routers, even uncommon ones .​
2 .​
Change the​ default SSID (Service Set IDentifier)
The SSID is​ the​ name of​ a​ WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) .​
All wireless devices on a​ WLAN use SSIDs to​ communicate with each other .​
Routers ship with standard default SSIDs .​
For example, the​ default SSID for​ Linksys routers is, not unsurprisingly, Linksys .​
As you can see, if​ you don’t change the​ default SSID of​ your router a​ would-be intruder armed with a​ few common SSIDs from major manufacturers will be able to​ find your wireless network quite easily .​
To change the​ SSID, click on the​ Wireless tab .​
Look for​ an​ input item labeled SSID .​
It will be near the​ top .​
Enter a​ new name for​ network .​
Don’t use something like My Network .​
Use a​ name that is​ be hard to​ guess .​
3 .​
Disable SSID broadcast
Wireless enabled computers use network discovery software to​ automatically search for​ nearby SSIDs .​
Some of​ the​ more advanced software will query the​ SSIDs of​ nearby networks and​ even display their names .​
Therefore, changing the​ network name only helps partially to​ secure your network .​
To prevent your network name from being discovered, you must disable SSID broadcast .​
In the​ same screen that you changed the​ name of​ your network, you will see options for​ SSID broadcast .​
Choose Disable SSID to​ make your network invisible .​
Now save all your settings and​ log out .​
Since your wireless network is​ now invisible, you will have to​ configure your computers to​ connect to​ your wireless network using the​ new name .​
On Windows XP, start by clicking on the​ wireless icon in​ the​ Notification Area and​ proceed from there .​
With these three steps, your network now has basic security .​
However, if​ you keep sensitive information on your computers, you may want to​ secure your wireless network even further .​
For example, you can
- Change the​ channel your router uses to​ transmit and​ receive data on a​ regularly basis .​
- Restrict devices that can connect to​ the​ router by filtering out MAC (Media Access Control) addresses .​
- Use encryption such as​ WEP and​ WPA .​
As with most things in​ life, security is​ a​ trade off between cost (time, money, inconvenience) and​ benefit (ease of​ use) .​
It is​ a​ personal decision you make .​
However for​ the​ majority of​ home uses, the​ three basic steps plus WEP/WPA encryption provides reasonably strong security .​
Turning on encryption is​ a​ two-step process .​
First you configure your router to​ use encryption using an​ encryption key of​ your choice .​
And then, you configure your computer to​ use the​ encryption key .​
The actual process of​ configuring your router for​ encryption varies from router to​ router .​
Please consult the​ router’s manual .​
There are even stronger methods for​ ensuring security .​
a​ strong and​ robust security method is​ RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial In User Service) .​
Using RADIUS requires additional hardware and​ software .​
However, there are companies that offer RADIUS security as​ a​ subscription based service .​
The fees are reasonable and​ dropping .​
Therefore for​ example, if​ you run a​ business on your wireless network, have sensitive data on your computers such as​ credit card information, and​ have a​ number of​ users who access your network, you should consider using RADIUS .​
Since the​ service sector for​ RADIUS is​ dynamic and​ growing, a​ search on the​ Internet with terms like RADIUS subscription or​ RADIUS service is​ probably the​ best way to​ locate one.

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