Today’s wireless networks accommodate a range of devices, from IP cameras and phones to connected appliances and TVs. By taking basic steps to ensure network security, users can prevent their information and devices from being compromised.
Understand How WiFi Networks Operate
Wireless access typically requires the connection of a modem or access point to a router, which sends a signal through the air and allows any device within range to access the Internet. Unless precautions are taken, anyone can use the network—and if they send spam or commit a crime, it can be traced back to the network’s owner.
Use Wireless Encryption
Once the wireless network has been set up, information should be encrypted to prevent hackers from eavesdropping. In encryption, information is scrambled into a code and rendered inaccessible to others. WPA (WiFi Protected Access) and WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) are the most common standards, and most of today’s routers include the newer, stronger WPA2 capability.
Limit Network Access
Every device that can communicate with a WiFi network is assigned a MAC (Media Access Control) address. Routers typically have a setting that allows only devices with certain MAC addresses to access the wireless network, but this step isn’t foolproof, as hackers can spoof MAC addresses.
Keep the Router Secure
It is important for users to protect their networks from online attacks by securing the router. A router directs traffic between the Internet and the local network, and it is the first defense against hack attacks. It’s a good idea to:
- Change the router’s name from the factory default. The router’s name (typically referred to as the SSID) is likely to be a standard one assigned at the factory. Change it to something unique that only the user would recognize.
- Change default passwords. The router’s manufacturer likely assigned it a password that allows the buyer to set it up and run it as an admin. Hackers know most default passwords, and it’s wise to change them before using the network for the first time.
While WiFi gives users convenient access to the Internet on a variety of devices, it can leave them open to a variety of risks. By following the tips above, owners can secure wifi networks and stay safe online.