Stop Network Intruders

Thanks to the affordability of wireless networking, almost anyone can set a system up in mere minutes. The downside is that this widespread use has caused an increase in network intruders who are looking to gain access to your personal information for fun or criminal activities. You have the power to stop them with a little know-how.

Secure Your Access Point

Most access points to administration interfaces and wireless routers require a password to log into the system or device and change any of the configuration settings. The biggest mistake many users make is choosing a weak password that's easy to guess. Some set up their systems so there's no default password at all or use the supplied default password.

The first step you need to take when setting up an access point or router is to enable the default password, if it isn't already, and change it to something else. Create a strong password with numbers, characters, and both uppercase and lowercase letters. You likely won't need this password often so make sure you write it down and store it in a safe place. If you do forget this password, you won't be able to access your access point or router unless you manually reset all manufacturer settings and wipe away your configuration settings. This process has been designed not to be simple for the average computer user.

Make Your Network Invisible

The average router or access point continually broadcasts the service set identifier (SSID). These are a sequence of characters -- sometimes called a network name since by default it's usually the name of the networking company -- which let certain stations connect to the desired network. Turning off the broadcast hides the name of the network so it won't show up in a list of available networks. It does not prevent a skilled hacker from finding your network, but it will hide it from the average person.

Each router or access point has a different menu for disabling the SSID. For the average wireless router, you'll find this information under wireless settings.

Reduce Your Wireless Transmission Power

Lower the power of your transmitter to reduce how far your wireless signal reaches. Try to limit its reach outside your home making it more difficult for outsiders to access your network. Be aware that not all access points or wireless routers will let you do this, but use it if the option is available.

Turn Remote Administration Off

The majority of routers will allow you to complete administration work on them remotely using the Internet. Keep this feature off unless you absolutely need it to reduce the chance of a network intruder from potentially accessing your router. This feature is usually turned off by default, but it's a good idea to check to make sure it's disabled. To disable it, look for "Remote Administration" in the admin area of your router. Make sure "disabled" is selected.


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