Protecting Your Computers on a Wireless Home Network

by Barbara J. Feldman on January 7, 2008

Computers that are on a wireless in-home network have different security issues than do computers who are not connected to a wireless network. When you set up a wireless network there are also unique security settings that need to be adjusted. Unfortunately, not all people who install a wireless network have the patience to look through all of the security options. Most people are just excited to get their wireless system up and running and therefore do not even think of the security features that should be installed.

If you do nothing towards increasing your security after connecting your computer to an in home wireless network, the least that you should be doing is to protect your computer from the everyday dangers that exist regardless of whether you have gone wireless. Such security measures that should be taken on all computers include setting up a firewall and antivirus protection. Both firewall and antivirus protection are easy to obtain, install and update. Most people are able to get these security features for free from one of the more popular security sites. However, it is also important to remember that you are not fully protected unless you are regularly updating the security features when you are prompted to do so. With your basic security features in place there are now additional security features for a wireless in-home network that need to be addressed.

One of the most important security features that you want to make sure is working at its highest possible capacity is your method of encryption. Different computer users will have different levels of compatibility when it comes to what type of encryption method they are able to use. Experts agree that if your system allows for a WPA encryption that is the better option over a WEP encryption. Although a WEP encryption is better than no encryption at all. Encryption is where a message is scrambled as it is being sent to your recipient. Once received, the recipient is able to read your message normally.

The reason why it is so important to have adequate encryption with a wireless in home network has to do with the way that wireless messages are sent. Wireless messages are much easier to intercept than are non-wireless messages therefore you will want to use encryption to make sure that your information is protected even if it is intercepted in transit.

Another simple adjustment that you should make to your settings immediately after installing your wireless software is to change any default or administrator passwords to passwords that you have created and that are unique. Any self respecting hacker knows all of the default passwords used by the most popular networks. It would be a simple trial and error process for them to determine what network you have and by plugging in the default passwords they can have instant access to your information. Do not let this happen. Make certain that you not only change these default passwords, but that you change them to something that would be near impossible to guess. Use a case sensitive password and make sure that you have numbers and letters in your password as this will make it much more difficult to guess.

The last method of protection for a wireless in home network that will be mentioned here in this brief article is to be aware of and control the range of your router transmitter. Wireless networks send your data to and from various locations via signals that are sent and received by your router. As long as your router signal is only available in your home then you may not have much to worry about. However sometimes a signal is strong enough to reach outside of your home, even to a neighbor’s house or out to the street. If you know that your signal could be read somewhere other than your home, make sure that you make adjustments to the strength of the transmission to discourage anyone from piggy-backing on your system.

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Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "Protecting Your Computers on a Wireless Home Network." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 7 Jan. 2008. Web. 1 Sep. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/1265/protecting-your-computers-on-a-wireless-home-network/ >.