[HOW TO] Secure Your Wireless Network

Let’s face it, we have all (or at least I have) jumped onto an unprotected WI-Fi network. When I was in college, I even considered knocking on my neighbors door (whose network was secure) to ask if they wanted to share a network and split the cost, but what would the dangers of that had been? And what are the dangers of not having your own network secure? Well, for starters, my neighbors could have been wrongfully accused of things if I were looking at or doing illegal things online, (I wasn’t and don’t), but if I had, the feds could have knocked on their door one day, like when this guy got busted for downloading images he hadn’t downloaded.

Also, unprotected wireless networks, also set you up for vulnerabilities on your computers.  Your files could be stolen, or your private info (such as bank information, passwords, etc.) could be stolen as well.

The only way to protect yourself from this happening, is to secure your wireless network. Follow these steps and you should be all set.

1. Open your router settings. This is typically done by typing “” into your browser.
Once the page loads, you will need to login to the admin settings, the generic login/password is different depending on the router brand that you are using, so check out the directions manual that came with the router to determine yours. The most common defaults are admin / password.

2. Change your router password. This is the password that we just talked about. (10 Tips for Choosing a Safe Password) If you forget to change this, your network is still accessible.  Anyone can login to your router and change your settings. This is a step that many forget to do, but it is definitely one of the most important.

3. Next, change the name of your wireless network. Do not name the network after the router aka Belkin. Also, do not use your own name, home address or other personal information when naming your network. You can name your network something funny or just something easy to remember, either way, it’s not that important, but it just let’s you and others know what network they are connecting to.

4. Encrypt Your Wireless Signal: Network encryption is important. It prevents other computers in your area from using your wireless signal. The newest form of encryption is called WPA2, use this if you have the option, otherwise WPA will suffice.  (WEP is the older, less secure version: i.e very easy to hack, stay away from WEP if at all possible) Choose a password that is up to 14 characters long, a combination of letters and numbers.

5. Make sure your router’s firmware is up-to-date. Possible security flaws will be easily avoided if your routers firmware is current.

Any other recommendations for securing a wireless network? Leave them below in the comments! And as always, be sure to share this article with all of your friends on Facebook and Twitter!

  1. Darky

    Tech Savvy Way:
    1. Click/Press the windows button (keyboard/bottom left) http://screensnapr.com/v/WA3JwK.png
    2. type in “cmd” and press enter when it shows up. http://screensnapr.com/v/ZIR2d5.png
    3. type in “ipconfig”, press enter ; Should look like http://screensnapr.com/v/YcdQhk.png after
    You many not have as many adapters as I do, since I’m using a laptop, but you might.

    4. look for wired/wireless LAN Adapter
    then look at “Default Gateway” http://screensnapr.com/v/XwUaL1.png In my case, its, so type that in on your address bar (preferably another tab/browser client)
    Since mine is a Qwest, My interface is http://screensnapr.com/v/T3Ggy2.png

    5. If it asks for a password/user name
    Netgear: Admin Pw; password
    Belkin: Admin Pw; you must set yourself, nothing by default.
    Linksys: Default user names:

    Linksys BEFW11S4, WRT54G: admin
    Linksys EtherFast Cable/DSL Ethernet routers: Administrator
    Linksys Comcast routers: comcast
    All other Linksys routers: [none]

    Default passwords:

    Linksys BEFW11S4: [none]
    Linksys Comcast routers: 1234
    All other Linksys routers: admin

    And thats mostly it, good luck to those who may try!

  2. Matt D

    Two other steps you could take to secure your network would be to hide your Wireless Network Name (SSID) and enable MAC Address filtering. Although these two steps do not provide security from determined WiFi pilfering individuals (due to MAC Address spoofing and unencrypted association frames respectively) they go above and beyond to aid in hiding your network from general users.

  3. carl

    One thing i think is a good idea to check from time to time is. On most modems you can set static i.p’s if you do this for all the devices on your network then it will stand out if another i.p. shows up on the router. If a new ip arrives and you have added nothing new to your network a passwrod change would be a good idea.

  4. Anonymous

    An unprotected WiFi network can actually improve your privacy on the Internet, because outsiders can no longer see the difference between your Internet traffic and that of your neighbor who joins your network. The linked MSNBC article shows that there are some risks involved, but hopefully this will be a temporary struggle against a government that has to learn to respect civil liberties.

    Of course, you still want to set up your network in such a way that your neighbor can not monitor your network traffic. So you want two separate sub-nets, one of which is publicly accessible and the other which is used by you, which can both connect to the Internet, but not to each other. Unfortunately, this is even harder to achieve than just making your WiFi protected, and on many routers it is even impossible.

  5. Tom

    Hiding the SSID is simply stupid: It does not help at all, but some devices wont work properly. So why do it?
    If you use WEP, it might be better not to secure your wifi at all, as WEP can be hacked in 5 seconds(!) but you may have to prove that somebody hacked it. So do use WPA2 odr at least WPA. If they are not available, your router is “worn out”. Sorry, your should by a new one -really!
    Mac address filtering might help a little bit, but you get into trouble if you have no cable LAN to replace your broken device if needed. Security is low, so simply don’t do this unneccessary step unless you are a pro (and then knwo better ways like radius).
    But do use two good passwords, one for wifi/WPA2 and one for the router. Do concentrate on this security things, not on obscurity.

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