Wireless Security 101 For Home Networks

If you are new to the wireless world or you have been receiving wireless service for some time now and are concerned about the security that you have, you are not alone. More and more Internet users are realizing just what they have at stake when they do not take the precautionary measures needed to ensure that their information and computer system integrity remain protected.

Many Internet and computer users know how to work with what they have but would not consider themselves technologically minded. Do not worry, you do not have to be a computer genius in order to do what is wise to protect yourself. Below you will find some simple suggestions for things that any novice can do to enhance the wireless security of their home network.

Know the reach of your transmitter — Wireless technology is complicated, but all that you need to understand is that in order for you to receive wireless services the information to and from your network provider are being sent invisibly by your transmitter (also called a router or access point). Your transmitter is the device that controls your signals. The signals that are sent from your router are not always confined to fit the exact shape of your home, therefore your wireless capabilities could be spilling out into areas outside of your home such as a neighbor’s house or the nearby street. When your signal is beyond the scope of your control you become vulnerable to the potential that someone can walk into your transmitter path and gain access to your wireless connection. It may take some time and trial and error to figure out the perfect setting but you can adjust your transmitter strength to be sure that the reach of your wireless connection does not exceed your home. Also in the settings is a feature called the SSID which transmits the identity of the wireless network that you are on. Simply disabling this feature will make it harder for outsiders to gain valuable information about you that they could then use against you.

Change default passwords — When you first get your wireless network start-up kit chances are you are excited to plug it right in and get started. However, not taking the time to adjust and change settings puts you at a higher risk. For example, your wireless network system comes with a default administrator password that is only intended to serve as a password while you set up your system. Once you are up and running these default passwords are no longer needed and should be changed to passwords that are far less predictable. You can assume that hackers are very familiar with the administrator default passwords and that they will try to gain access to your system by using one of these passwords first.

Enable encryption, firewalls and antivirus programs — Wireless security of home networks is not possible if your computer itself is not also protected. The two are obvious complements to each other so you will need to continue taking steps to ensure that you are enabling encryption (some types are better than others, experts suggest that if it is possible you get a WPA encryption versus a WEP encryption) and regularly updating your firewall and antivirus software. Remember that the tricks that hackers use to bypass security features are ever evolving. In order to keep up with them you need to be making regular updates to your security to combat hacker innovations.

Risks of remote administration — Keep in mind that the more accessible your information is to you, the more accessible it will probably be to a motivated hacker. Remote administration of your wireless system is certainly convenient but it also opens up the possibility for those who do not have permission to also gain access through your remote access link.

Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "Wireless Security 101 For Home Networks." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 7 Jan. 2008. Web. 31 Aug. 2015. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/1267/wireless-security-101-for-home-networks/ >.

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By . Originally published January 7, 2008. Last modified January 7, 2008.

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