How To Secure Your Wireless Network Connection

secured wireless   How To Secure Your Wireless Network Connection I was watching some program the other day and was surprised to find out that many people never secure their wireless networks. Some don’t know about it, others just ignore it… If you have a wireless network set up at home make sure it’s secured. When you have an unsecured wireless network even people with a basic computer knowledge can connect to your network, use your connection for downloading illegal material and easily see every single things you do on the internet.

Video below is a perefect example of why you should always secure your wireless network connection.

If you’re a regular MakeUseOf reader I am pretty sure you are already aware of it. So my only suggestion to you would be to set your wireless to use WPA instead of WEP encryption. As for the folks who are not really sure if their wireless is secured, read on for a quick how to guide.

Securing Your Router and Wireless Network Connection

Go to ‘Network Connections’ and search for Wireless Networks in range. This should get you all available wireless networks in the area.

unsecured wireless net   How To Secure Your Wireless Network Connection

Now you should be able to see whether the wireless network you’re “Connected” to is secure or not. If it’s secure, the only thing you need to do is check if it is using WPA or WEP encryption method. Right click on the network, select ‘Properties’ and then Look for ‘Encryption Type’

wireless wap wep   How To Secure Your Wireless Network Connection

(Please note simply changing the encryption type from properties won’t work. You will need to access your router and change security settings for the wireless access. So just read on.)

On the other hand if your wireless network is unsecured then here is what you need to do to secure it.

    1. Access your wireless router: In most cases you should be able to access your router by simply typing 192.168.0.1 IP address into your browser’s address bar. In case it doesn’t work for you then go to this website. Here you can get both the default IP and default username and password details for your router. You only need to know it’s model.

    password for linksys router   How To Secure Your Wireless Network Connection

    2. Secure your wireless network setup: Once you’re logged in to your router, go to the wireless tab and from there to security. Next, set the Authentication Type to WPA and enter the KEY (the new password for your wireless access).

    securing router   How To Secure Your Wireless Network Connection

    3. Save: Look for the ‘Save’ (or ‘Apply’) option to save the changes.

    4. Check: To check if you have done everything correctly, go to the Network Connections and scan for wireless networks. Your wireless network should appear as “security-enabled wireless network (WPA)”.

    5. Connect: Double-click on your network and entere the details from step 3 to get connected.

    6. (Optional): As an additional level of security for your router I’d recommend to change the default faactory preset acess details to your own. All of this can be easily done in router configurations page.

That’s about it. Got anything to add? Something isn’t clear? Ask questions and share your thoughts and tips in comments.

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27 Comments -

Sean M.

While this article is nice for people who only unknowingly have unsecure networks, I’d like to make a request for an article for people who KNOWINGLY have unsecure networks. Me and some of my friends have named our wireless networks things like “Net Hub” or “Free Net” etc. and try to let others use our internet because we have more than we need.

For others out there like me it would be nice to see an article about how to still make sure people getting on your network can’t screw things up and can be limited to how much bandwidth they use.

Aibek

Never thought about this from that angle, will definitely look into it. For the basic level of security and content filtering I would recommend using OpenDNS.

– You will need to change DNS settings on your primary PC (see OpenDNS site)
– then create account on OpenDNS and select some of their filters

Aibek

Encryption Software

Wow. Good for you for being so giving. I can honestly say I have never heard of anyone doing that before. I think it is actually a fantastic thing to offer people who are in range of your network, but you are, of course, correct. Giving them access is one thing, but limiting that access should be an option. It seems like something that would not be too hard to cook up. Let me know if you find anything.

Yeti

Just curious as to why you dont recommend WPA2 ? it being harder to break than WPA. Granted none will keep a woulb be attacker out of your network (assuming they know what they are doing)

I would always recommend WPA2

Quoted from wikipedia to explain a little more:

WPA2 replaced WPA; like WPA, WPA2 requires testing and certification by the Wi-Fi Alliance. WPA2 implements the mandatory elements of 802.11i. In particular, it introduces a new AES-based algorithm, CCMP, which is considered fully secure. Certification began in September, 2004; from March 13, 2006, WPA2 certification is mandatory for all new devices to bear the Wi-Fi trademark

Aibek

I didn’t mean WPA specifically but all WPA encryption types (WPA / WPA-2 etc.)

Bruce M

While I agree that wireless networks should be secured, I don’t think that it is completely enough. It seems that hackers will get in no matter what. “Mr Smith” in the YouTube video did have his network secured but apparently not enough. It’s like he had his back door locked but with a weak lock that was breakable with a small hammer. Now, someone might argue about the weak lock but at the end of the day he did have his door locked but some thief was able to break in.
I think that there should be stricter laws against hackers.
Great article though on educating people about unsecured networks.

Sumit

I have a problem,I have a Linksys WRT54G,I went to 192.168.1.1 When I put in the password,It says Bad username/password. I may have forgot the password,Is there a way I can find out the password? Please,help!!

Venny

My problem is I put in the IP address and it never connects. I went to the CIRT.net and got the proper username and password, but where do I enter this since I can’t get a screen that asks for a user name and password? I just get a connection time out error.

Souter Johnny

I work for BT business broadband. A few weeks ago I spoke to a customer who wanted to make his network unsecured. He wanted to do this as it was too much hassle connecting new computers to it. And besides, he lives in the country so who would be sitting in the lane outside trying to connect to his network? As they say in the Sun, You couldn’t make it up.

Aibek

Yeah, regular folks are full of surprises :-)

Brian

If your router supports mac filtering (like popular open source firmware DD-WRT), this is much better than using any type of encryption. Since you basically maintaining an “allow list” of your network device’s mac ids, you will make your wireless 100% unhackable with no encryption and better performance (due to not needing to encrypt every wireless packet). To everyone else, they will see an unsecured access point but be unable to communicate with your router because their mac id is not on it’s allow list.

David

Brian,

That is not correct. Anyone can sniff the traffic, see your mac address, then tell their computer to use the same mac address. Most network cards allow you to use whatever mac address you want.

WPA/WPA2 with a long, complex password is the best solution. Since you only have to type it in once, you don’t have to make it easy to remember.

Use WPA/WPA2 and don’t bother with anything else.

Lauren

My wireless on my laptop doesn’t work.

Manny

Brian, you can spoof MAC addresses fairly easily so I wouldn’t say it’s 100% unhackable at all.

Matthew

you may want to add a comment regarding Changing the SSID from the default and not broadcasting it.

Jimmy

This works really well. I was one of those that has had a wide open unsecure network for the last 6 years and haven’t had a problem…….yet. So I finally went through the trouble of “securing” my network, with the full wpa and everything. Well it sure is secure! Now my 2 laptops cant connect no matter how much I mess with the security settings and the set the mac ids update the drivers. Blackberry wifi wont connect. Wii is offline now. I didn’t realize it would be such a seemingly impossible task to get all my devices to be online from my wireless and still keep neighbors from leaching off my connection. Now I disabled the wpa and I still am not able to connect. Shouldn’t have messed with anything now I gotta problem

Mike

Good post! Thanks!

Simply

Hey can anyone please help me…
My network was unsecured and i could easily connect to the connection but yesterday the connection was set to secured automatically i want to reset it back to its previous condition means unsecured
can anyone please explain how to do that?
and also i still get my own connection option to connect to but when i do so it doesn’t allow me too and show some other problem…

I’ll really appreciate if you solve my problem…

Aibek

Each router has a reset button that resets the router to factory default settings. It’s usually so small that you will need a needle or something similar to push it. Press the button and hold it for 10 or so seconds. This should reset the router back to unsecured states and wipe all added settings.

Robert

I always use roadwarriorvpn.com when ever I am using public Wi-Fi. I can never trust the wireless connection when I am traveling.

Data Protection

Congrats to Sean M. I can honestly say I have never heard of anyone doing that before. I think it is actually a fantastic thing to offer people who are in range of your network, but you are, of course, correct. Giving them access is one thing, but limiting that access should be an option. It seems like something that would not be too hard to cook up. Let me know if you find anything.

Lesley

I also secured my Linksys WRT54G v5 by following the above steps and couldn’t access the internet afterwards. I had to change my router back to factory default by accessing the router through my wired desktop (easier than finding the little button). I don’t know what the problem is. I followed the steps exactly – tried it 3x’s. No internet after secured. Had to go back to default and unsecured. Linksys won’t help me without giving them another $30…warranty ended 2 months ago!

Barry McKeever

Followed the above procedures to setup a secure wireless network. I show my unsecure and secure connections. When I try to connect through the secure connection I am unable to connect to any web pages even though it shows me as being connected. If I use the unsecure connection everything works fine. What to do now?

Thx

raghav

sir. i think instead of 192.168.0.1 try 192.168.1.1 worked for me thx

monica

sorry, i am following all the instructions, getting the right username and password from the helpful cirt web site, but it just keeps popping up with the username/password box, apparently not accepting it. It seems like a lot of problems above are related to WRT54G, as are mine. I am exhausted from typing in admin as password…it is clearly not accepting. Suggestions?