7 Quick And Easy Tips On Creating A Secure Home Network!
Do you have a secure home network, when using WI-FI?
In other words, can your wireless network access the internet without having to worry about hackers, viruses and wireless signal thieves? Having a secure home network requires more effort and education than simply buying a wireless router(s), connecting it, logging onto the internet and surfing while praying no one ever hacks you! What many users fail to realize when setting up a home network, is that when you purchase a router and setup a password, by default your network is NOT secure.
When you internet service provider (Verizon, AT&T etc ) sends you a broadband modem that allows you to connect other computers to the internet wirelessly (Wi-Fi), chances are you aren't secure unless someone installed your internet modem and setup the security "features."
In the new "Social Networking" age, it is important to be conscious of the internet threats that are lurking, and how to protect your personal information and data from thieves by setting up a secure home network. Did you know there are tools and software that exist, which allows a person to search for your wireless home network, connect to it, "crack" your encryption key (password), and STEAL whatever they want from your computer (including credit card numbers, financial records, passwords, pictures, other sensitive info etc)!!!
Let's take a look at how you can create a secure home network, and feel confident – "safely" browsing the internet.
1.) In your broadband (wireless) modem or wireless router, change the default name and password used to access the router's admin panel (used to change any settings of the router/modem).
Hint: The default name is usually set to "admin," and the password is given in documentation (or a disk) by the manufacturer of the equipment.
2.) Always use encryption (password/key), for a truly secure home network.
WEP (Wireless Encryption Protocol) and WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access), are the two most common types, with WPA being harder to "crack" than WEP; therefore making WPA a better choice for security.
Also, it is always best to create a totally new and different password (key) at least every 30 days, to protect and secure your home network. The password should be hard to "guess" – in others words using a mixture of symbols, alpha/numeric characters, upper and lower case characters, and at least 8-14characters total if possible.
Hint: An example of a strong password is: "1mypasswordx90544z" or how about: "tektime1$@%%p0rt." These passwords are harder to guess using password cracking software. (Do not create "easy to remember" passwords, such as passwords that are made up of your name, your kids' name(s), your birth date, your street name; etc.)
3.) Turn off your wireless router or broadband modem when you aren't accessing your network.
For example, when you are going to bed or when you aren't home, it is best to disable your internet to further act as a barrier of protection for a secure home network. How can intruders, Trojans etc cause damage to your computer or internet connection when it isn't transmitting a signal? You're right…they can't!
4.) Disable Service Set Identifier Broadcast on your modem/router.
Otherwise known as "SSID" this is the identification name given to the device by its manufacturer. For example, routers made by D-Link will have "Dlink"as the SSID, while routers made by Netgear will have "Netgear" as the SSID. Turning off your SSID prevents your wireless home network from being displayed in the list of "available networks", when someone is scanning the area for wireless networks to connect to.
5.) Change your SSID name.
As well as disabling your router's SSID, it is important to change your SSID name, even though it is no longer being displayed thanks to the last step in which we disabled it. Changing your SSID name will not create a secure home network alone, it prevents hackers and snoopers from instantly figuring out what router you are using. By knowing what router is being used, a hacker or thief is more prepared to cause havoc on your home network, especially if you are using the same log in, password and default administration information, as the manufacturer created.
6.) A secure home network ALWAYS use a firewall!
Many firewalls that come built into routers (hardware firewalls) can cause various problems when accessing the internet. It is best for beginners and novices to use a software solution, until learning the ins and outs of hardware firewalls, and their limitations.
Firewalls are created to prevent software (such as Trojans) from connecting to the internet without your authorization, thus preventing Unwanted sharing of your data, personal, financial and other confidential information. Firewalls also prevent those outside of your home network, from accessing it without your authorization.
Hint: A highly regarded software firewall solution, is Comodo Internet Security. Feel free to look it up in your favorite search engine. It is totally free (the basic version), extremely effective, and easy to use (after a slight learning curve). I recommend it to all of my clients, and I am not getting paid by Comodo to endorse them. It is just an excellent program, try it for yourself!
7.) Lower the range of your wireless signal.
A secure home network does not transmit an internet signal outside of the vicinity of the users' home. Why should you lower the range of your wireless signal?
Imagine yourself buying the "biggest and baddest" wireless router that you can find, from your neighborhood store; boasting a range of 1 mile! Wow, that's a high range…you can use it anywhere in your home that you choose without any signal loss at all! While that may be true, the truth is that you only need a signal range that allows the signal to transmit in your home, and not necessarily outside.
This will prevent internet connection thieves (and hackers) from being able to receive the radio waves from your router or modem, so connecting to your signal would be virtually impossible even by the most experienced hacker!
Hint: One way to lower your signal range, is to switch to 802.11 g, from 802.11 n, or even to 802.11 b. Consult with the documentation included with your router by the manufacturer, for specific information.
Hopefully these tips will help you to create and maintain a secure home network, and you won't have to face the nightmares that so many people experience who fail to secure their wireless network!
Always remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Until next time,
Jarvis Edwards – TekTime IT Consulting & Computer Repair.
Jarvis Edwards is a senior technician at TekTime, IT Consulting & Computer Repair, located in the Inland Empire area of Southern California, and is the author of the PC Technician's Virus Removal Manual. To learn how to remove viruses that can cause network disasters, please visit his company's website and sign up for the email list, to get FREE ebooks created for computer technicians and the "Do It Yourself" crowd!Click for The Virus Removal ManualClick to visit TekTime's website.
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