Having a wireless network in your home or office makes it easy to connect to the Internet from your desktop and mobile devices. However, did you know that any hacker within range of your wireless network can access it unless it’s secured? Once someone has gained access to your wireless network, they can snoop on your traffic and possibly steal important personal information. To protect your data from snoopers, follow these basic tips for locking down your wireless network.

Add Encryption

Every wireless router offers connection encryption. Encryption is a form of security that scrambles your data and makes it unreadable except by the recipient.

The three common encryption standards are WEP, WPA and WPA2. WEP is a poor choice, as the encryption scheme it uses was broken several years ago and offers little protection. WPA and WPA2 are generally considered the goto options. WPA2 offers more protection than WPA, but older devices may lack support for it. It’s up to you to determine which type of encryption will work best for the devices on your wireless network.

Change Router Defaults

Every wireless router comes with a default user name and password for the administrator account. Routers also include a default SSID (your wireless network’s name). The administrator password gives anyone access to your router console application. Since the password is always the same default, it’s important that you change it as soon as you configure your wireless network.

The SSID is also set with a default, making it easier for hackers to identify your router’s manufacturer. Knowing the type of router gives the hacker a bit of an advantage because he can run scripts against common security holes for each manufacturer. If you disable broadcasting, this will hide your SSID from anyone searching for a wireless connection.

Most routers have remote administration turned off, but double check to ensure this setting is disabled. Remote administration allows you to remotely log in and access your router, which you will probably never need to do. Disabling this setting reduces the hacker’s choice for entry points.

Keep Router Firmware Upgraded

Router firmware is the software that gives the device its functionality. Like any other type of software, firmware sometimes has bugs or security holes. These issues are fixed when you update your router’s firmware. Most manufacturers provide firmware on the company website. You can download this software and install it on the router. Be careful to follow the directions closely, because improperly installing firmware upgrades can brick the router.

Log Out When You Are Finished Setting Up the Router

Your router probably has a browser-based interface. It’s this interface that gives you complete control over the router’s settings. If you leave the router interface open, it leaves your device vulnerable if someone gets access to your computer. Always log out when you are finished updating or configuring the router.

Final Thoughts

While these tips don’t guarantee complete protection from router hackers, they do increase it greatly. If a hacker gains access to your network, he can steal data and even read passwords and usernames that give him access to other accounts. Using these tips, you can protect your data as well as anyone else who uses your wireless network.

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