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Protect your wireless network

Protect your wireless network

Having a wireless modem in your home has its benefits. Checking email, playing PSP, mobile operating system applications, surfing the Internet from the living room or bed, all have their advantages. The sad part about this technology is that nearly 30% of users mess up the setup, leaving unsafe wireless or free broadband for the rest of us. As I write this article, there are currently 3 users using insecure wireless networks around me.

This article will educate you on the basics of securing your wireless broadband at home. Cordless phones, mobile phones, and wireless apps work on the principle that the fewer cables there are, the better the experience. Wireless networks are great to use, however they can also be easy to hack if you don’t have the proper security settings or software running in the background. By default, most wireless networks out of the box are insecure. You should read the manual to know the different settings needed to secure your wireless networks. The list below are the basics to keep intruding on your limited network.

Step 1 – You need to know your current network settings

Wireless technology transmits data using radio waves from one application to another. The signal that carries your data is transmitted over a long distance, sometimes miles. Without simple security measures in place, anyone with the right tools can reach out and encrypt, steal, and hack your data. Insecure Wireless is the most common form of intrusion into private networks.

Step 2: Change your SSID and user password

SSID stands for service set identification number. All wireless networks, from large corporate systems to simple home setups, contain an SSID. SSID is the digital name of your network. First, change your SSID number and password from the default settings to something private and secure. Never keep the default SSID active. To change the SSID and password for your network, start the software for your wireless hardware. You should be able to change your SSID within the program’s control panel. Overwriting the default SSID won’t do you much good if your network name is broadcast to all users in your area. You can keep your information private from all users in your area by disabling SSID broadcast. It’s as simple as checking a box from your modem’s control panel.

Step 3: Configure MAC filtering

Media Access Control or MAC: A 12-digit address attached to the network device. Pocket PC’s, PSP’s, laptops, desktops, etc. all have a MAC address. it can be difficult to find a MAC address depending on the hardware used. However, time spent protecting this section will prevent hackers from directly accessing your network and stealing information. For Windows desktop users, click Start, click Run, then type cmd in the text box. Type ipconfig/all in the Dos window. The 12-digit physical address is the MAC address. Basically, the MAC filters devices from accessing your wireless modem. By identifying who can access your wireless modem, an additional layer of security is added to your network. To enable MAC filtering, open your wireless modem’s software and enter the MAC address of the hardware you are granting access to. This is usually located in the Security Settings of your modem’s control panel.

Step 4 – Encrypt and encrypt your data

Two common encryption protocols are WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) and WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access). Both protocols encrypt your data and block unwanted visitors from entering your network. WPA is considered to be more secure than WEP because the access key is constantly changing. However, WPA is not known to all devices and is subject to current hardware and device configuration. WPA is usually built into most routers along with WEP encryption. It is very important to make sure that your device connection supports WPA encryption. If you don’t use WEP and MAC filtering, you will catch most hacker intrusions.

Step 5: Education and Software

Stay informed: always read about wireless security. Some great online articles to stay ahead of internet safety. Every month check for updates to your wireless modem. Keep your desktop up to date with the latest updates from Microsoft or Linux. Download third-party software like Zone Alarm to help detect intruders and monitor your wireless transmissions at all times. More third-party software options will be added shortly, including an article on WarDriving.

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