How to secure a wireless network and protect your data transmission over the air
A wired home network offers the highest level of security because no data is transmitted over the air.
However in many cases Wi-Fi is the only option for your portable and mobile devices to connect to the Internet from home. For example you would be able to watch your favourite YouTube channels, or update your Facebook page, from an iPad Wi-Fi in your lounge room only if you are equipped with a wireless router hooked up to the Internet.
Consequently most of us end up having a combination of a hardwired, high-speed network and a wireless one in the house.
These days networking equipment manufacturers make installation and configuration of a wireless router quite simple. Open the box, plug a cable to the Internet socket, put in your username and password given to you by your ISP and voila.
Because it’s so simple to get the accessory up and running most of us forget to visit the security page of the router to configure the security side of it. In this article I’d like to share with you four tips to make your home wireless network more secure.
Tip #1. Don’t broadcast your network name (also known as SSID)
Have you noticed that when you fire up your wi-fi device sometimes it detects wireless network available around you? That is because people around you have set up their wireless router without making it invisible. When in my house I can detect up to six live wireless networks around me!
Tip #2. Select WPA2 encryption instead of WEP
Prefer WPA2 encryption as it is much stronger than WEP. Most of new Wi-Fi enabled devices are compatible with WPA2 security mode.
Tip #3. Activate MAC address filtering and only allow your devices to connect to the router
MAC address is a unique network address assigned to your Wi-Fi device by the manufacturer. These addresses are unique in the sense that there can’t be two Wi-Fi devices with the same MAC address in the world.
Most routers allow you to explicitly list which devices can access the Internet via the router. Below screen shot is from the D-Link DIR-655
Tips #4. Make your passwords hard to guess
This one is probably the most overlooked.
In general routers are pre-configured in factory with default values for admin password, IP address, etc. Think about changing the password and network name when you first set up your equipment. If you forget to action tip #1 above your network will be visible to your surroundings. Indelicate persons might be able to access and take control of your router.
What method do you use to secure your wireless network?
Read detailed article about How to Design and build a wired home network