Easy Steps To Secure Your Wireless Network

By | September 3, 2014

HP.com (Hewlett-Packard Home Store)

Wireless networks are communications systems exempt of wires, such as Ethernet cables. Instead they use radio frequencies made possible by wireless routers using air just like cell towers to cell phones. It’s a fact these days people are connected 24/7 since Wireless Fidelity a/k/a Wi-Fi came on the scene. Now, given the environment and assessment of various threats out there the most important issue is how to secure a wireless network.

Management of wireless communication is essential to mitigate threats. Remember these systems are fairly new to the market and there are new risks associated because information is airborne. This presents opportunities for information to be intercepted by hijackers. This poses a greater risk than wired networks.

Router Log-in Screen
How a Router Works
Wireless Encryption
Configure Encryption Method
Encryption Standards from Weakest to Strongest
My Laptop was Attacked.
How to Secure a Wireless Network
Block Mac Addresses from Accessing Router
Causes of Router Signal Interference
Yes, Today’s routers have Parental Controls


 

Router Log-in Screen

  • Access the router by using a browser and type in the routers IP (Internet Protocol) address in the browser address field. It will be  something like this: 192.168.x.x and press enter. Check manual for your particular IP and directions.

Router Log-On

 

Wireless systems are popular due to their convenience, such as they’re low-cost, easy to configure, mobile, productive, and its seamless integration with components. They are set protocols (rules) and encryption methods that have vulnerabilities, so, it’s a combination of procedures that will help keep your network secure. Remember I always remind you that nothing is secured 100%. We just do the best we can to prevent attacks and mitigate the damage. Wireless is no exception to the madness.

The overall router security objectives are the same for any network wired or wireless. It has to control and preserve confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data.


How a Router Works

A router basically receives data from the Internet connection and transforms that signal into radio signals via an antenna. Computers / laptops are Wi-Fi ready and able to decipher (read) the signal from the router; however, coming from the router the signal is converted into ones and zeros ergo computer language.


Wireless Encryption

Encrypting your wireless router is the necessary and most practical strategy. It undertakes 2 things: keeps the neighbors from latching on and using your Internet connection – sucking up your bandwidth and stops hijackers from infiltrating your system and compromising your sensitive information.


Configure Encryption Method

Most wireless routers come with the encryption turned off by default, so it’s up to you to configure the desired encryption method. The following are the dominant standards:

 

WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) Early encryption method for routers and the weakest of them all. Not surprising after all it was the first. The hijacker finds this type entertaining. It will only take seconds using the related-key attack. It was fallible due to its algorithm (calculation of rules; problem-solving operations). Encryption revisions: from 64 to 128 to 256 bit.
WPA (WiFi Protected Access) Created to patch the vulnerabilities of WEP. This upgrade include data integrity checks which determines if a hijacker captured / changed while transmitting between the access point (router) and client (user). Also added was the Temporal Key Integrity protocol (TKIP) which was created to secure per-packet key stream. TKIP was then preceded by Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)
WPA2 / PSK (Pre-Shared Key) WPA2/ PSK is known as 802.11i is the complete bundle of WPA and most judge as the strongest non-proprietary encryption scheme. It includes the AES algorithm which is fully secure and deemed better than TKIP.

Encryption Standards from Weakest to Strongest

1. Open Network (No security)
2. WEP
3. WPA – TKIP
4. WPA – TKIP / AES
5. WPA – AES
6. WPA2 – AES


My Laptop was Attacked.

Surely no desk top or laptop connected to a wireless router should use number 1 or 2. That would be a huge mistake. They opening networks to anyone seeking free Internet access or your confidential information.

Long story short my laptop was infiltrated by a neighbor in my building when was using WEP as my encryption method. How I found out was I noticed ASCII like data in my notepad program. It was an entire page full of scrambled data that I didn’t put there. I quickly disabled my wireless connection and switched over to wired.

A day later I reconnected my  wireless connection and noticed there was only one network showing within the entire building and that name was Python. You might not know, but Python is a computer programming language. It seemed everyone in the building figured it out. One day after that Python was gone. That person was most likely a white hat (a hacker who infiltrates network systems just to eavesdrop).


How to Secure a Wireless Network

• Read the manual or visit the website of the manufacturer of the router checking for available updates.

• Update your router and upgrade to Third Party Firmware if possible.

• Change the default manufacturer’s login password to one of you own.

Router basic configuration

• Turn on or upgrade the network encryption standard to either WPA, WPA/ TKIP, or WPA2/AES

• Change the Service Set Identifier (SSID). It’s not necessary, but it will distinguish your router from the many other routers if you live in a high density area. Never change it to something that will identify you or something like your apartment number. Which I see many do in my area.


Block Mac Addresses from Accessing Router

• Configure the router to only allow Media Access Control (MAC) addresses you add to the router. Any other device will be restricted. Every computer and laptop is equipped with a unique identifier assigned to the network card for communications. The MAC address as part of the TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) stack. Example of a MAC address F8:FF:43:88:CB:E9.

MAC configuration

  • To restrict a specific MAC address click Add and then click Add MAC Address.

 Add Mac addresses


Causes of Router Signal Interference

You can’t see radio waves they are invisible to the naked eyes, but there are physical obstructions that will interrupt communication, such as wall, metal objects, and floors. Those that will not interrupt communication are plywood, glass, and drywall. Home appliances can disrupt router signals because they’re on the same frequency bands, such as microwaves, elevator motors, cordless phones, and possibly other routers.

 


Yes, Today’s routers have Parental Controls

In this window I can enable Parental Controls within the Firewall tab by checking the box next to Enable Parental Controls. While I’m here I can also enter MAC address that I trust to access my router. The reason the back ground is grayed out is because I clicked to add websites to display the window. The sites entered wouldn’t want my kids to access. What a great feature allowing you  to control and monitor your child’s computer use.

 

Parent Control

If you’ve completed at least 2 of the suggestions above then you did more than say 80% of wireless network owners and I congratulate you. These steps are taken to secure a wireless network, it’s called hardening or locking down your system. And it’s not something you forgo or leave for later; it’s absolutely necessary.


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Author: Wanda

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16 thoughts on “Easy Steps To Secure Your Wireless Network

  1. seo

    Hello Wanda, I was unaware that routers had parental controls. Having three teenage kids it’s a blessing; However, I was thinking of purchasing a new Linksys router I hear their much cheaper. What’s your recommendation? Thanks you for writing this article.

    Reply
    1. Wanda Post author

      Yes Seo, routers have finally advanced to meet the demands of the consumer and times. Linksys router’s come equipped with parental controls and here’s one I think you find interesting. It’s called Linksys N300 Wi-Fi Wireless Router – Parental Control with Advanced Settings.
      The price is $41.19.

      Regards,

      Wanda

      Reply
    1. Wanda Post author

      Yes, that’s true, James. Although I’ve written about the configuration of a specific router you can apply the same steps. Good for you!

      Cheers,
      Wanda

      Reply
  2. Grace

    Thanks for finally talking about >Secure a wireless network –
    Learn Computing Basics <Liked it!

    Reply
    1. Wanda Post author

      No problem. It’s important not to leave obvious loop holes when it comes to wireless networks.

      Cheers!

      Wanda

      Reply
  3. Rebecca

    I read other blogs regarding routers, but yours is clear and provides more details. I don’t have this brand, but I still followed you instructions and the configuration is basically the same. I configured the settings just as you stated. Thanks a whole lot 🙂

    Reply
    1. Wanda Post author

      That’s fantastic news, Rebecca. Keep up the great work.

      Wanda

      Reply
  4. Martin

    I’m not computer savvy like I should be with kids in the house. But after reading your blog particularly routers with parent controls I’ve grown wiser. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. Wanda Post author

      Happy to be of assistance, Martin.

      Cheers!

      Wanda

      Reply
  5. Lillian

    Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it,
    you are a great author.I will make sure to bookmark your blog and will come back in the foreseeable future. I want to encourage continue your great job, have a nice weekend!

    Reply
    1. Wanda Post author

      I try, Lillian. Please do return for more interesting content. You have great weekend as well.

      Grateful,

      Wanda

      Reply
    1. Wanda Post author

      Glad you found it here, Teena.

      Thanks for commenting,

      Wanda

      Reply
    1. Wanda Post author

      It’s extremely important to protect our kids from nefarious elements of the Internet. They allows you to toggle between Enable / Disable. It’s a blessing.

      Sharer,

      Wanda

      Reply

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