The Complete guide To Securing Your Wireless Network.
Obtaining your network information You will need certain information to change the security settings on your wireless network. To find details of your network, click Start (and Run in XP) and enter “cmd” (don’t use the quote marks). Type “ipconfig /all” (don’t use the quote marks) at the command prompt and use the scroll bar to view all the wireless network info. The PC’s IP address is called IPv4 address and will look something like “192.056.5.1. The Physical Address in the listed info is another name for the MAC address and looks like 1f-57-0B-00-19-CB. You should take a note of this as you may need it later.
Protect Your Router. Wireless Routers come with default settings that are well known to hackers.
Don’t let anyone tamper with the settings on your wireless router as they could compromise your network security. When you first get your router, it will be security protected by a generic username and password. These are well known so you should change them. Type in IP address of the router into your web browser to display your router login page, enter the manufacture’s username and password. All Wireless networks have a username and if a neighbour is using the same router, then the networks may both be using the manufacture’s default. This means your PC may connect to your neighbour’s network instead of your own. In the router configuration, find your network name (SSID) and enter a name that’s hard to guess.
Hide Your Network.
Wireless networks broadcast their name to make them easy to find, this is convenient for hackers as well as users. The router’s configuration will have an option to disable SSID broadcast. PCs remember the names of networks they have connected to, so disable it after you have logged on to your network for the first time and it will still be able to find it, even if you make it invisible. (PC’s that have not connected to it won’t be able to find it)
Encrypt your information.
Information transmitted across a wireless network can be captured, so it is best to encrypt it. A router typically offers WEP, WPA and WPA2 the most secure, but unless you live next door to a hacker with a grudge, it doesn’t really matter which one you use. To use WPA2, simply turn it on in the router settings and type a password, make sure it’s hard to guess.
Encryption on the move.
In addition to WPA, there is another type of encryption you can use, particularly if you use your PC on the move. Products like Hotspot Shield create a virtual private network (VPN). You can download and install the free utility to add extra security to keep snoops out.
Use MAC address filtering.
Every networking device has a unique identification code called a Mac address. A PC has one, a smartphone with WI-Fi has one, a Wi-Fi dongle for a laptop has one, even an iPod touch has one. You can instruct your router to only allow connection from devices you specify. The option to enable this will be found within the router firewall configuration. Turn it on and enter the MAC addresses of every device you use. Some devices have them printed on then, some you’ll find in the settings. The Iphone for example, go to Settings, General, About, WI-FI Address. Some routers list the devices that are connected and you can simply point and click to add MAC addresses.
Check Your Connection.
Wireless networks extend beyond the home and it’s possible that your PC can detect the networks of several neighbours. If they don’t have any security and your PC connects to them, then you won’t have any security either. Right Click the network icon in the Taskbar or open “Network and Sharing Center” in the control panel, and check that you are connected to your own network.
Set the network location.
Windows 7 and Windows Vista have pre-set security configuration for pulic, work and home network. If you only have one PC and don’t share files, printers, videos and music with other computers, setting the location to Public offers increased security. Go to “Networking and Sharing” in the Control Panel and click the link under Network, Home network opens up the PC for easy access by others, so choose Public instead.