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Securing your Wireless Network……

Wireless (WiFi, WiMax.) is the next big thing…the buzz word u hear every now and then. The number of Internet Users in India has shown significant raise in the last 6 months. The web is indeed becoming a household item, especially amongst the mighty middle class Indians – something which shows the tremendous potential for e-commerce in near future.

And more and more home users are going for the wireless internet rather than the fixed wired networks with cables running everywhere and tangling all around the house. The accessibility and availability provided by the Wireless Internet Networks would quickly turns into a gloomy nightmare if you don’t configure some security controls on your wireless network.  

First thing that is forcing people towards Wireless is the time required for the Last Mile Connectivity. When a User gets the idea of having an internet connection in his home, first thing on his mind would be how quickly I can get connected and browsing the first website. While wireless connectivity can easily accomplish this, it’s best to configure some security controls on your wireless connection before logging into the cyberspace.

Here are some tips and tricks to help secure your wireless network.  

To go Wireless you need a Wireless Router. A Wireless router is a device to which you connect your ISP Internet Cable and the Router connects your Laptops or Desktops with Wireless network cards to the internet using Wireless Connectivity.

First and most important thing is to change the default admin password. Different Brands use different Admin User name and password combinations which are readily available on the internet. For Example: admin-password, admin-admin123, admin-<Blank Password>. Such passwords can be easily figured out by hackers when they are left as the default. Not changing your wireless admin password is like putting a box of sweets with an open lid in a place full of ants.   

Packets of data flow on the Wireless Network just as Packets flow in Wired Networks and this makes the job very easy for a Hacker to use a Sniffer and Sniff the packets, and most of the popular services like Yahoo and MSN send the password unencrypted.  To combat this you need to turn on encryption. Enabling WEP encryption on your wireless network will help you protect your privacy and all your info won’t be floating around outside your home waiting to be picked up by a passerby. You can define a long phase phrase like TheQuuickBrownFooxJumpedOverTheLazyDOG, or something similar without which the passerby wont be able to connect to your network. 

Another important option is to disable the auto-connect feature. Do not allow your devices to auto-connect. Allowing auto-connect may connect to a network that you don’t particularly want. To further enhance security you can enable your wireless router to accept connected only from the MAC Address defined in the allow list. You can add the MAC Address of your Laptop and Desktop to allow list and ensure that only those 2 devices can connect to the Wireless Router.

Another Trick which works without any configuration is, place the wireless router close to the center of your home. Although the reach of WiFi networks can vary greatly, it’s important to not allow the signal to float around great distances from the main access point. It is impossible to stop all leakages from exiting your home. But minimizing the risk to your WiFi network will help to protect it.  

Another good idea for WiFi network security is to not allow broadcast of the SSID. Your router may have SSID broadcasting set up by default; however you should be able to change this setting in the configuration. This feature is only useful for mobile environments, and is not needed in home WiFi networks.  

These are just a few tips to securing your WiFi network. It’s always a good idea to check for firmware updates to your router as new exploits and vulnerabilities arise. Some routers will have an auto update feature and it’s important to use it. Using auto update will help keep your WiFi network secure without the need of remembering to check for updates.