Wireless Internet connections are becoming the preferred method of going online. As the name implies, the connection doesn’t require the use of wires, making it easy to move freely about your home and surf the Web from multiple devices, including laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. Wireless routers come in many sizes and provide varying signal ranges. Depending on router type and proximity, it may be possible for your neighbors to use your wireless connection, compromising network performance and the security of information stored on your device. You have several options for creating a secure connection, including using a network security key, changing default device information, and adjusting router placement.
Use a network security key, such as WPA or WPA2. WEP, an early wireless-network scheme, is not recommended because it is relatively easy for hackers to crack. Log in to your router’s console and locate the wireless security settings; this process will vary depending on your router. Select “WPA2” or “WPA” as your preferred security type, and then fill in any additional data, such as network name and password. Select “Shared” as your security type and follow the prompts to complete the process, such as clicking “Save” or “Apply.”
Change your router’s default administrator name and password. Most router manufacturers use default settings for ease of setup and access, allowing anyone with access to such information to hack into your system. Access your router’s settings through the “Control Panel” and follow prompts to enter a new name and password after initial setup. Check your router’s user guide, which may be available on the manufacturer’s website, for instructions on how to change the default administrator name and password.
Change your router’s default Service Set Identifier (SSID). This network name, which appears in a list of location-based nearby wireless networks, can be selected by anyone within range. Access your router’s settings through the “Control Panel” and follow prompts to enter a new name and password after initial setup. Use a random passphrase rather than a common word, such as your last name or any word found in a dictionary, to prevent your neighbors from accessing your network. Check your router’s user guide, which may be available on the manufacturer’s website, for instructions on how to change the default SSID name and password.
- Adjust your router’s settings to prevent its SSID from appearing as an available network. Position your router near a central point in your home to limit transmission range and signal strength, which makes it difficult for your neighbors to connect. While WEP is no longer recommended as an encryption method, it is still available to support older wireless devices. There are two kinds of WEP: Open System Authentication and Shared Key Authentication; the latter is the least secure of the two.
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