A wireless router is your door to the internet, and unless you make it secure, other people with malicious intent can hijack it, or can steal your bandwidth (so your connection to the internet is slowed) hack into your computer system or network and might even use it as a “zombie” to spread pirated software, spam, or viruses. Here are some steps you can to configure your router to make it more secure.
- Change the Service Set Identifier (SSID): Devices come with a default name and password, and if you leave the default name (usually “Linksys”, or “NETGEAR” – depending on the brand), the attacker will easily guess the default password, which is common knowledge (such as admin/password, etc.) and also know the technical details of the hardware. Use a different name that is unique, not your name or something revealing.
- Change the router’s default administrator’s password, because the first thing a hacker would do is try the default passwords of popular models, and those are easily obtained from the manuals. Change it to something easy to remember but hard to guess.
- Disable SSID broadcasting: this makes the access point invisible to attackers, and make you less of a target to attack. Announcing that you have a wireless connection to the world is an invitation for hackers.
- Enable encryption, preferably WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access), which uses a new dynamic keying method which generates trillions of keys from a single key entry. Only use 128-bit WEP vs. 64-bit (Wired Equivalent Privacy) if you can’t use WPA2. This ensures that only the intended recipient is supposed to be able to read it.
- Enable the built-in firewall capabilities of your wireless router to restrict unnecessary traffic, and only allow incoming or outgoing traffic that you have approved. This helps create one more line of defense.
- Enable MAC filtering – MAC filtering uses the media access control (MAC) number assigned to each network adapter to enable or block access to the network. This will allow access only to those machines which you permit to access the network.
In security, nothing is foolproof, but the above measures will make it harder for an intruder to get access to your wireless network.
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