Turn off the ability to access administrative settings over the wireless connection. This will protect you from the really skilled hacker who could take control of your wireless router. Perform all administrative tasks via the wired interface.
Wireless routers are relatively easy to install, but their default settings can be anything but secure. Wireless signals can travel for well over a hundred feet, making your wireless network available to anyone in your neighborhood within that radius. It is important to take several steps to add security to your wireless router to keep your information safe and secure from cyber hackers.
Change the Service Set Identifier (SSID) of your wireless network. This is the name that appears in the list of available wireless networks. The factory default is usually the name of the maker of the router, such as "linksys" or "netgear," and the default administrative userid and password are available from any number of Internet sources. Alter the SSID to a name with no connection with you. For maximum SSID protection, disable SSID broadcasting and your network name will not display in a list of wireless networks; anyone trying to sign on will have to provide the exact name of the network, not simply select it from a list.
Reset the default router admin password to something other than "password" or "admin." Make it something difficult to guess, at least eight characters long, a mix of numbers and letters, and be sure you record the password for later administrative access.
Implement the strongest encryption that the computers on your network will support. WEP (Wired Equivalency Protocol) is the oldest and weakest, but it is far better than the "No encryption" option. If your networked computers support WPA or WPA2 select one of those and create a passphrase of more than eight characters. Record the passphrase with the administrative password from the previous step, as you will need it to configure computers to be able to access your wireless network.
Enable MAC filtering and build a MAC address table in your router. MAC stands for Media Access Control and the MAC address is assigned by the manufacturer so that there are no duplicates. Once configured, the router's MAC address filter will allow access only to the MAC addresses in the table. This takes some work, however, since you will have to determine the MAC address of each wireless NIC in each computer that you want to be able to access your wireless network.
- Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images