How To: Secure Your Home Network

How To: Secure Your Home Network

Gregory Han
Apr 23, 2009

With broadband access now nearly as common as cable subscriptions, DVRs and other tech services that many of use on a daily basis, home networking has moved forward from an "expert install" into a mostly simple DIY affair. But even so, many people are unaware that their home networks remain unsecure (our list of local wi-fi networks always reveals 1-2 open ones with default router names signifying someone set it up and didn't protect it). Our friends at D-Link TV sent us some helpful tips for home networking security that we think are worth reviewing...

1. Replace the default passwords: Almost all routers and access points come with an administrator password that is a weak default, like "password" or the manufacturer's name. Replace the default passwords on every wireless router or access point you purchase with passwords of your own. Imagine, for instance, how many "dlink" networks there would be in the world if none of our customers renamed their routers? Hackers make it a point to know every company's default passwords. By simply defining a new password, one that will certainly be easier for you to remember than the default, you will establish the protection you need to halt hackers from accessing your network or devices.

Most reputable vendors supply easy set-up wizards with their devices. Just follow the directions to rename your router or device with something unique and easy for you to remember. But be careful not to be so creative or simplistic that you provide sensitive information with the name you give your device. "Smith Family Router" is not the best idea. Be sure to write it down and keep it someplace safe for future reference. Without it, the only way to access the router or access point may be to reset it to factory default settings. which will wipe away any configuration changes you've made.

2. Don't broadcast your SID: Most wireless network devices continuously broadcast the network's name, or SSID (Service Set IDentifier). This may be convenient to locate WLANs, but it leaves your network visible to any wireless systems within signal range. By turning off the SSID broadcast, your network becomes invisible to neighbors and passers-by. It still can be seen by WLAN "sniffers", however.

3. Turning on WPA or WEP: Further secure your wireless network by turning on the WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) or WEP (Wired Equivalency Privacy) security feature on your router or access point. Follow the easy instructions for the installation process, including choosing your level of security. WPA and the newer WPA2 provide better protection and are easier to use.

4. Finally, you should disable remote administration: Most WLAN routers can be remotely administered from the Internet. As a rule, unless you absolutely need this capability, it's best to keep it turned off.

For other helpful hints check out

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