The Best Security Settings for a Wireless Network

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Wireless networks have proliferated to the point that is hard to find a place where you cannot connect to the Internet. Unfortunately, the cybercriminals of the world would like to connect to your wireless network for less than altruistic reasons. If you have a wireless network in your home or office, it is important that you take measures to protect your valuable personal and business data. You can implement several settings on your wireless network to make it more secure.

Encryption

  • Most wireless routers support several encryption schemes, including WEP, WPA and WPA2. WEP stands for "Wired Equivalency Protocol" and was designed to provide something close to the security of a wired network. WPA stands for "Wi-Fi Protected Access" and is more secure because it supports longer key lengths. WPA2 is, of course, an enhanced version of WPA and is the most secure of the three. If WPA2 is available on your router, turn it on and choose the longest encryption key possible.

MAC Address Filtering

  • MAC stands for "Media Access Control" and refers to the address of your network interface card. These addresses are assigned by the manufacturer and they are numbered to avoid duplicates. Most routers support the ability to build a table of these addresses and restrict access to only those addresses. There is a caveat in that it is possible to "spoof" or fake a MAC address, but only the more sophisticated hackers are able to do this.

SSID Broadcasting

  • Wireless networks broadcast what is called a Service Set Identifier. This identifies the network to the world and is set by default to the manufacturer of your wireless router. One level of security for the SSID is that of naming your network some obscure name like "jg28l368" rather than "TheSmiths." This makes it harder for snoopers to deliberately find and tap into your wireless network. The most secure setting for the SSID is to not broadcast it. This way it is not even in the air to be discovered.

Administrative Access

  • Change the default admin password for the router, which is usually "password" or "passwd." These defaults are published on the Internet for all routers and hackers are aware of all of the defaults for your particular hardware. If your router allows administrative access via the wireless interface you should turn this off and do all router configuration through the router's wired network port. If a hacker can gain access to your router over the wireless connection, then he can potentially gain access to every computer on your network. Lock down administrative access to secure your wireless network.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
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