An unsecured wireless network is available to anyone within range who wants to use it. Although this may seem like an altruistic offering, it can be harmful to you. An unauthorized user can monopolize your bandwidth and slow your connection to a halt. If this user engages in illegal activities, it will be your door on which the police will be knocking. Furthermore, a skilled user can potentially hack into your computer from this connection. All this can be prevented by setting up wireless encryption.
Connect the Ethernet cable from your Internet service provider's modem to the wireless router port labeled "Internet," "WAN" or "WLAN." Connect another Ethernet cable from one of the four "LAN" ports to the Ethernet port on your computer. The Ethernet port looks like a large telephone jack. Wait a few minutes for your computer to recognize the connection.
Open any Internet browser, such as Internet Explorer, and enter the router's IP address, which is printed in the router's instruction manual. If you do not have the manual, try "http://192.168.1.1", "http://192.168.0.1" or "http://192.168.2.1". Press "Enter." A login dialog box appears.
Enter your username and password, as noted in the router's instruction manual. If you do not have the manual, try leaving the username blank or using "admin" or "username". For the password, try leaving it blank or using "admin", "password" or "1234". If you previously changed these credentials, use the new username and password.
Click "Wireless Settings," which may be under "Setup" on the menu. The location differs between makes of routers, so consult the manual if you have trouble locating it.
Enter a new name under "SSID" or "Wireless Network."
Select an encryption algorithm under "Encryption" or "Security Options." If given the option, choose "WPA" or "WPA2." These are considerably stronger encryption algorithms than "WEP."
Enter a passphrase or password in the "passphrase" box. This password should be long and difficult to guess. Use a mix of numerals and lowercase and uppercase letters. Write down the password and keep it in a safe place. Click "Apply" to save these settings.
Disconnect the Ethernet cable from your computer, if this is the computer you want to connect wirelessly. Click the wireless network icon, which looks like five progressively longer vertical bars, by the system clock on your computer. Click the SSID name you entered from the list of available networks that pop up. Enter the passphrase you created and press "Enter" to connect using encryption.
- Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images