Video and Media

Wireless Security (Video)

Steps to take to protect the wireless network in your home.   

A wireless network is something that lets your computer access the internet without using any wires or cables. So if you have a wireless network at home, you probably have a device called a wireless router which transmits data to your computer remotely.

 
The biggest benefit to using a wireless network is convenience. It lets you move around and work on a laptop anywhere in your house or in your business and you can also connect different computers to the internet without having to deal with the big tangle of messy wires.
 
Unless you take a few basic steps to protect your wireless network, anyone with a wireless ready computer can use your network without your permission. This is something that we call piggybacking.
 
Now in most cases the only harm you might actually experience is a slowing down in your broadband speed as different people try to share one network connection. But in other cases a hacker could access the personal information that is stored on your computer and if someone uses your network to commit a crime or send spam, that activity could be traced back to your account, so you definitely want to be careful.
 
To protect yourself when your on the wireless network you can do a few things... 
 
First you want to make sure that your router isn't broadcasting the presence and identity of your wireless network. If your router is publicly broadcasting, it can make it easier for hackers to find and access your network. Instead you want to hide your wireless network by turning off the identifier broadcaster feature on your router.
 
Another thing you can do is to not use a default name or identifier that came with your router. Using the default identifier makes it easier for hackers to find and access your network. Instead you want to change the identifier for your router to a unique name.
 
Now the best way to secure your wireless network is to turn on the encryption feature on your router. This will make sure any data sent over the network is encrypted or scrambled.
 
Now there are different kinds of encryption standards that you can use in your home wireless network. The strongest one is something called WPA2 and the weakest one is called WEP. Now of course we recommend you use the strongest encryption standard that you can.
 
And one thing that a lot people don't realize is that when you buy your router, its often sold with the encryption feature turned off. So one thing that you definitely want to do is make sure your router has encryption turned on. And you can do this by following the directions that come with your router, but if you're like me and you throw away your instructions and packaging as soon as you get your gift, you should be able to get the directions from the website of the company that manufactured your router.
 
Now every router comes with a preset password for changing the administrative features on your router. One thing you want to do is change the password to something only you would know. The longer the password, the tougher it is going to be to crack so we recommend using a password that has at least twelve characters.
 
Another step you can take is to restrict access to your wireless network to specific computers that you know are safe. Every computer that can communicate with the network is assigned its own unique media access control address, or what we call a MAC address. Wireless routers usually have a mechanism to allow only devices with particular MAC addresses to access the network. To learn how to do this just go to the OnGuard Online website. 
 
And finally when you're outside in a public place, you don't want to assume that public wireless networks are going to be secure. I'm talking about all those WiFi hotspots that you find in cafes and libraries, hotels, universities, and tons of other public places. You should always keep in mind that any information you send or receive over a public wireless network could be seen by other people.
 
And if you want more tips and video tutorials on securing your wireless network, come visit us at Onguard Online at OnguardOnline.gov/wireless.