Home and Office Wireless Network Security Tips
  • Home and Office Wireless Network Security Tips

    My brother recently came for a short stay recently and he said he couldn’t find a Wi-Fi connection to connect to. I had him bring me his devices (all three) and spent several minutes on my laptop getting his devices connected. He said he leaves his Wi-Fi open with the out-of the-box settings so any guest can connect with ease. As an IT professional, I was appalled. Leaving your home or home office Wi-Fi set with the default, open settings exposes your network to several dangers.

    It’s really not that difficult to set up some very good wireless network security for your home and home office with today’s wireless routers. Wireless network security protects you from the lack of speed you can encounter from random users getting a free ride on your bandwidth, or from such users downloading copyrighted or illegal material on your connection.

    How to Secure A Wireless Network

    There are many different brands and models of wireless routers out there and they all come out of the box set up so that they can be easily found and connected to. If they weren’t, many of them would be returned. To ensure WiFi network security, follow these steps:

    Step One: Read the manual. It will tell you how to connect to its Wi-Fi security settings through its embedded webpage.

    Step Two: Connect your computer to the wireless router with a network cable or connect to it through Wi-Fi. Open a browser and go to the address listed in the manual to access its embedded webpage. My router site is 192.168.1.1. The manual has the username and login to enter the site. Once you have used it to enter the site, change that username and password first! Make it something you won’t forget. The default data is widely known and the kid in your neighbor’s basement can cause trouble very quickly.

    Step Three: Change the SSID (Service Set Identifier). That’s the name that shows up when nearby users search for available Wi-Fi access. For example, instead of “linksys”, you’ll probably want something more identifiable. There is a setting to hide the SSID, but it’s pointless to hide it since there is software (and hardware) that will point out hidden SSIDs. Just change the name to something you will know is yours.

    Step Four: Change the encryption level to at least WPA2 AES level. There are many Wi-Fi encryption levels, and while WEP encryption is common, it can be broken in seconds with widely available software.

    Step Five: Then set the access password. Make it different from the password you used to login to the website! If you give out the Wi-Fi access password freely, you don’t want that to be the same as the router’s settings password, otherwise any guest who uses your Wi-Fi can change the settings for everyone.

    Step Six: Look in the web site settings, usually under Wireless / Advanced Settings – look for Access List. This will let you identify which MAC addresses are allowed to get service from your wireless router. Each piece of Wi-Fi equipment (computers, cell phone, tablets, etc.) has a MAC address assigned to it. It’s in the binary form like E0:85:2F:C4:6A:9E.

    Each device has a different path to find its MAC address. On a PC you can go to a command prompt and type ipconfig /all and look for the physical address of the wireless device. It may also be printed on the product’s box label. Once you find the MAC address on your device, add it to the Wi-Fi network’s Access List.

    While this may be tedious to edit the list every time you have a new guest or buy a new device, it greatly improves your wireless network security. Even if a user has your SSID and the password, but is not on the MAC access list, they can actually connect to the router, but it will not give them Internet access from it. You have full control over your Internet access.

    The best part about wireless routers is that if you totally screw them up while adjusting your Wi-Fi security settings, you can simply stick a paper clip in the small hole for 1 minute, and then they’ll reset to the factory settings!

    Corporate Network Security

    For large companies or organizations, network security can be even more important. Failing to implement security on your company’s wireless network can expose your documents and files to anyone. This is not only a security risk, but also a financial risk—and for certain industries a legal risk! It is vital that your network security have advanced monitoring and security systems in place to prevent unauthorized access.

    If your company needs network security, we can help. We provide a free network security review and advanced network security, intrusion detection, and network monitoring solutions. Contact Solvere One today to secure your network from outside threats.