You bought a router, plug it in and internet works. Nice and easy, no settings, no hassle with terms which you don’t understand, it just works. But really, this method is obviously not safe. This provides great open networks, just look in a random street with your laptop for wireless access and you have great chance that you can use multiple networks. Fortunately there are many ways to set up your network safe, but many people forget to set up and secure the router properly. The whole neighborhood can see your network and with a few clicks using your internet. To prevent this, a router must be configured properly after installation.
How to secure your router
Create a wireless network with encryption, this is a type of data encryption that ensures that information sent over the network is protected. If you know the key, you can see the information. If you don’t know the key, you’re not able to see the information. New routers are always equipped with at least two types of encryption, WEP and the WPA or WPA2.
The simplest form of encryption of a wireless network is WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy). This method is very easy to crack, and only recommended if you have older hardware that can’t handle stronger encryption. WEP has two variants: with a 64-bit key length of 40 bits and 128 bits with a key length of 104 bits. Both WEP variants are insecure and quickly cracked so not a recommended security for your wireless network. Use it only if you have nothing else.
WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) solves several problems of WEP. The encryption with WPA is stronger, and periodic the key will be changed automatically. This makes it difficult to find the network key from the outside. If your equipment supports WPA, use WPA instead of WEP.
WPA2 is the successor to WPA, the difference is mainly in the WPA encryption which is much harder to hack than WPA. A disadvantage is that not all hardware and software support WPA2. For example Windows XP, only provided support for WPA2 since April 2005 and most hardware manufacturers supporting WPA2 only with driver updates. If you’re using “old” equipment and / or software, WPA2 is probably not possible.
Set up WPA security
Depending on your options, select WPA or WPA2 for security (or encryption) on your router. How exactly to do this you read the manual of your router. Most common routers can be accessed via 192.168.1.1 but this may be different in your model.
Choose a variety with WPA PSK (Pre Shared Key). Here you can easily remember your network key, enter up to 32 characters. Rather use something that’s difficult, with lots of letters and numbers, this is much harder to crack. The Pre Shared Key that you entered, you have to present as a network key when Windows asks for it once you connect to your wireless network. If you save it in Windows, you don’t have to enter it the next time.
Change wireless router password
You should immediately change the username and password for the admin section of your WiFi router. Many routers have the default password and login name admin, or something like that. If you don’t change it, then everyone around you can adjust the settings of the router and even can make it, that you don’t have access to your own network anymore. So make the password very difficult.
Most wireless routers have now a firewall. By default it’s set that traffic outgoing is enabled, but connections from outside are blocked. In this way you are protected against unwanted visitors who want to look around your network. It is strongly recommended to leave the firewall enabled.
- Remember that encryption should be set on both the router and the PC, otherwise it will not work.
- PC and router must use the same encryption key.
- Which encryption is possible in your network depends on both the router and the network, both must support the desired security level.
- Use at least an encryption, WEP is already enough.
- Remember the settings of your router, other wise you have to reset your WiFi router if you want to enter the admin section.
- Although most routers have a built-in firewall, doesn’t mean that the existing firewall or antivirus and anti-spyware software on PCs can be removed or disabled.
- Don’t forget to read the manual very careful.