How To Secure Your Wireless Network – We should all be doing it, VPN, Firewalls, Router configuration, Device configuration, so lets start from the basics. People have become more flexible due to the wireless network technology. Thanks to the invention of wireless we are all able to get great internet speed throughout our home, without wires. People can now work from home while taking care of their kids or doing house works. No more stress from traffic jam anymore. Is this great? We can go down to the nearest cafe and use their Wireless Network and surf, play online games or even do work.
Well, there is something you should realize, with every get idea there is always a down side that needs to be taken care of. Working from your home while using a wireless local area network (WLAN) may lead to theft of sensitive information. Most companies that do let their employees work from home install VPN software on their laptop or PC. But what is a VPN, you may be thinking. Well a VPN creates a encrypted tunnel from the local device, in this case a laptop, to the final destination. This could be your companies firewall or a exposed server in a DMZ zone, used for external access to a secure network. When using a WIFI there is always a chance that a hacker or virus will try to jump on to your connection. This infiltration is very harmful unless proper measures are taken on your Wireless Network to secure it. As WLANs send information over radio waves, someone with a receiver in your area could be picking up the transmission, thus gaining access to your computer. They could, if they got access, load viruses on to your laptop which could be transferred to the company’s network when you go back to work.
Believe it or not! Up to 75 per cent of WLAN users do not have standard security features installed, while 20 per cent are left completely open. This 20 per cent leave their WIFI setting as default configurations. Everyone should be aware that the default setting on most device is not secured but made for the users to have their network up and running ASAP. It is recommended that wireless router/access point setup be always done though a wired client. Some people do not have the know-how on how to secure their network and some don’t pay any attention to it.
We all need to change and start thinking security, security, security. We live in a world where information is more valuable then gold.
To start with you can step up your security by following these steps:
- Change default administrative password on wireless router/access point to a secured password. Use a password generator if you cannot think of one, then add something unique to you at the end of the generated password.
Good password generator list:
- Enable at least WPA encryption on both card and access point. This is the bare minimum, if your router does not support this for any reason, get rid of it and buy a new one. Or contact your internet provided and ask for an upgrade.
- Change the default SSID on your router/access point to a hard to guess name. Setup your computer device to connect to this SSID by default.
- Setup router/access point not to broadcast the SSID. The same SSID needs to be setup on the client side manually. This feature may not be available on all equipment. But it does hide it from anyone looking for around.
- Block anonymous Internet requests or pings. On each computer having wireless network card, network connection properties should be configured to allow connection to Access Point Networks Only. Computer to Computer (peer to peer) Connection should not be allowed.
Enable MAC filtering.
Most people do not know about this, unless they are a bit techy. MAC filtering denies association to wireless network for unspecified MAC addresses. Mac or Physical addresses are available through your computer device network connection setup. They are physically written on network cards. This makes them unique, every device will be different. When adding new wireless cards / computer to the network, their MAC addresses should be registered with the router /access point. Network router should have firewall features. This feature should be enabled and demilitarized zone (DMZ) feature disabled.
All computers should have a properly configured personal firewall in addition to a hardware firewall. Some good free personal firewall ones are:
You should also update router/access point firmware when new versions become available. Locating router/access point away from strangers is also helpful so they cannot reset the router/access point to default settings. You can even try to locate router/access point in the middle of the building rather than near windows to limit signal coverage outside the building.
There is no guarantee of a full protection of your wireless network but following these suggested tips can definitely reduce the risk of you exposing your information to attackers aiming at insecure networks. This is your home digital protection, you should always keep it high on your list.