5 Essential Steps to Secure Your Wireless

This video shows you how someone can hack your home or business wireless network in just a few minutes with freely available hacking tools found online.

Q. What can I do to secure my wireless network?

A. Wireless internet connections have made getting online easy.
Just go to the coffee shop and boom, you’re online. Even Starbucks converted their entire network to free wireless.

Today, people own a variety of wi-fi gadgets including PDA’s, Blackberries, Smartphones, game stations like the Wii and of course, the laptop.

So if you want setup a¬†wireless network, what’s the minimum you need to know to keep your data safe?

1. Purchase your own wireless router

When you get internet service with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) like Comcast or Qwest, they provide you with a modem. This device connected to the cable or phone line and turns that signal into an internet connection. Now, often these “modems” wear two hats because they often are equipped to be routers as well. Routers do just that; route traffic. Routers protect your computer from the internet by looking at requests going in and out. It drops or denies what looks like bad traffic. On top of this, the modem could have a third job and offer wireless too. What so bad about this you ask? Why not just use the modem/router/wireless you got from your interent service provider?

These internet providers are out to make a profit from the services and products they provide so quality is often at the bottom of their list when they decide which devices to provide to their customers. If you have high speed internet, you’re probably familiar with power cycling your modem because it’s frozen and you can’t get online.
As you go about securing your internet connection, those changes are stored inside the router. Now, if you have a problem with your internet connection, the first thing Comcast and Qwest ask you to do is powercycle it. If it completely goes down, you’re supposed to bring it in and they will replace it. Well, once that happens, you lose your configuration you spend so many hours on! You have to start from scratch securing your network again. When you own your own router, the option to backup the configuration is a standard option so it’s fairly easy to restore your settings.

2. Secure your wireless with tough encryption

To make things easy for consumers, most routers that support wireless are shipped with the wireless enabled and no security. This is actually intended to help in the setup so you can “see” the router. Unfortunately, many business owners and home users think things are peachy and leave things as they are. This allows anyone, within range (up to 500 yard) to connect into your network. Even if you have WEP encryption, that takes just a few minutes to crack with free tools anyone can get online. A 5th grader can crack the encryption if they skip their homework so within minutes, your entire network can be compromised.

You can get a secure, tough password from Steve Gibson’s GRC website.¬† Even the password page is SSL!

3. Password protect the administrator login

After you get that shiny new router all setup, make sure you put a password on it. In the last two years, many people have been surprised when they try to get online only to realize they have been locked out of their own wireless routers!

4. Only share necessary folders

Once you have a network up and running, check your shares. Plan out what you want to share, like the “My Documents” folder and only share that. A common security issue is that the entire C:/ drive will be shared with “everyone” so if someone is on your network, including your children’s friend who brought over his or her laptop, they can see everything on your computer including your Quickbooks, taxes, Excel and Word documents, PDF’s…you get the picture. I will post an article about how to view your shared files if you’re running Windows XP.

5. Get a Mac from the Apple Store

Enough said. Mac OSX can now run Windows XP. Two ways are through Parallels and Bootcamp. With so many applications hosted on the web, Microsoft is losing their foothold with applications running on the Windows platform. A great example is Google Docs.

Next Steps

Purchase a good router Linksys WRT54GL Wireless-G Router w/Free shipping at Amazon
Schedule an appointment with me to set it up
- Wireless network setup


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