Protecting Your Wireless Connection


Our home is supposed to be a place where our family feels safe.  Recently I have read about unsuspected victims of internet hackers who prey on those who have not taken the time to properly secure their wireless network in their homes.  You may have thought the same way I used to think before I was informed: “Why in the world would anyone want to hack into my network.  I have nothing from which they could gain.”  Think again.  Is there anything you do online that you would consider private (online banking, purchasing online, or confidential passwords)? These matters can be seen by someone who is maliciously intercepting your internet connection. Do you really want someone to be able to spy on you?

Besides that, there is also the fact that neighbors might be using your internet connection for their own benefit.  The speed of your internet connection will be affected by the number of people who are using your router.  If your neighbors are using your wireless connection then you are not getting the full speed for which you are paying your internet provider.

The main reason for securing your wireless network is because there maybe someone using your network to conduct illegal activity that can be traced back to your address.  What happened to a Buffalo, N.Y., man should serve as a warning to all home Wi-Fi users: Protect your wireless connection! Before things were straightened out, this innocent man was surrounded in his home by federal agents, weapons pointed at him, and accused of being a pedophile. It turns out that a neighbor was using his unprotected Wi-Fi to access child pornography.

Many people simply plug in their wireless router and begin using Wi-Fi with no thought of security.  Here are some ways to protect your unsecure network.  If you do not know how to implement these steps, ask a tech-savvy friend that you trust to put these safeties in place.  Warning: this does not allow you to let your guard up while online.  Hackers are finding new ways every day to get what they are looking for.

1. Change your default Administrator Password and Username. The default name and password are well-known by hackers.

2. Turn on Encryption (WPA is best, but WEP works too if that is what is compatible with your all your computers) This scrambles messages sent over wireless networks so that they cannot be easily read. All your computers on the network must use the same type of encryption.

3. Change the Default SSID (Network name.) Make it unique but not personal.  Hackers that see a default SSID know that the network is poorly configured and is more than likely an easy target to break into.

4. Disable SSID Broadcast. SSID Broadcast allows the wireless access point or router to broadcast the network name (SSID) over the air at regular intervals. This feature is designed for businesses and mobile hotspots which need to let their uses know when they are in range. You do not want to send out a message that your internet connection is available.

5. Do not auto-connect to open Wi-Fi Networks. Connecting to an open Wi-Fi network such as a free wireless hotspot or your neighbor’s router exposes your computer to security risks. Although not normally enabled, most computers have a setting available allowing these connections to happen automatically without notifying you (the user). This setting should not be enabled except in temporary situations.

6. Assign Static IP Addresses to Devices. Most home networkers gravitate toward using dynamic IP addresses. This means that the IP Address, (the IP Address is needed to participate on a network.) is typically assigned automatically. A dynamic IP address on an unsecure system can also supply a hacker with an IP Address.

7. Use MAC filtering. Every device on your wireless network has a unique identifier called the MAC address.  Your router keeps track of the MAC addresses of all the devices that connect to it.  Your router may offer an option to key in the MAC addresses of your home equipment, which restricts the network to only allow connections from those devices.

8. Enable Firewalls on each computer and the router. Modern network routers contain built-in firewall capability, but the option also exists to disable them. Ensure that your router’s firewall is turned on. For extra protection, consider installing and running personal firewall software on each computer connected to the router.

9. Position the router or Access Point safely and reduce your WLAN transmitter power. Wi-Fi signals normally reach to the exterior of a home. A small amount of signal leakage outdoors is not a problem, but the further this signal reaches, the easier it is for others to detect and exploit. Wi-Fi signals often reach through neighboring homes and into streets, for example. When installing a wireless home network, the position of the access point or router determines its reach. Try to position these devices near the center of the home rather than near windows to minimize leakage.  Not all wireless routers will, but some allow you lower the power of your WLAN transmitter and thus reduce the range of the signal. Although it’s usually impossible to fine-tune a signal so precisely that it won’t leak outside your home or business, with some trial-and-error you can often limit how far outside your premises the signal reaches, minimizing the opportunity for outsiders to access your WLAN.

10. Turn off the network during extended periods of non-use.. The ultimate in wireless security measures, shutting down your network will most certainly prevent outside hackers from breaking in! While impractical to turn off and on the devices frequently, at least consider doing so during travel or extended periods offline.

Hopefully this information has helped you in some way.  At Clean Internet our goal is your safety online, first of all through our internet filter.  We also have customer service available that is only a phone call or e-mail away.  Let us help you with any of your internet or computer questions.