For example, if you have connected a network printer, then the unauthorized user who has connected to your wireless network, gets access to it and can use it as he pleases.
He can also access the hard disk backup system, that you have designed for the network. Even worse, he can get full access to the Internet, which means that someone you don't know, is accessing any number of harmful sites, downloading anything, sending objectionable mails and what else.
The need for a secure wireless network, is very clear. The next question is "how do I secure my wireless network?". Fret not, the following simple steps will help you in the task of securing your wireless network.
Steps to Secure Your Wireless Network
Step 1: Access your router's homepage
Your router should be connected physically by a wire, to one computer. Else, connect an Ethernet cable between your laptop and the router, by fixing the wire in one of the Ethernet ports on the router.
Open the web browser on your computer. For adjusting router settings, it is best to use Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox. Make sure no one is using the wireless network at this time, as when you change the settings, they may get disconnected.
In the address bar of the web browser, type the router's address. Usually, the default address for most routers is 192.168.1.1. A small login window will appear, asking for a user name and password. Enter the details as required.
By default, the router user name field should be blank and the default password is admin. But these details can differ on various routers, so refer to the router's documentation to get such information.
Step 2: Change your network's name
Once you are on your router's home page, look for basic wireless or wi-fi or network settings tab. Click on such a tab and look for the term SSID.
The SSID or Service Set Identifier is the name of your wireless network. A name is assigned to this network by the router automatically. For e.g. a Linksys router will name the network linksys by default.
If you have not changed the name of your wireless network ever and it is the default SSID, please change it. This will prevent unwanted network access. You can change the SSID to something personal and preferably unique from other networks in your neighborhood.
Your wireless network has now been renamed, so look for the new name of your network, in order to connect to it.
Step 3: Secure your network with WPA
In order to protect your network from unauthorized access and encrypt your data, you need to activate encryption mechanisms. The latest and strongest of all encryption techniques is WPA 2. You can also use WPA-Personal.
Open the wireless security settings page on the router's settings page. Look for the field, security method/mode or authentication type, usually with a drop-down box alongside. Select WPA2 or WPA from the list.
Once selected, a field called passphrase/key/passcode should be present. The text or phrase you enter here, will be set as the password for your wireless network. Whenever someone wants to access the wireless network, they will need to know the password to join the network.
Create a strong password, preferably a long phrase, which is made up of both digits and numbers. Click on Apply or Save Settings to set the password. Now your network will show up in the network list, as a secured network.
Step 4: Secure your network with WEP
WEP is an older encryption mechanism that is slightly vulnerable, so it is not recommended to use WEP. However, in older devices and routers, WPA or WPA 2 are not recognized mechanisms and will not allow your device to connect. Unless you upgrade the firmware of the device or change the router, you will have to use WEP to secure the network.
To enable WEP, select the protocol from the security mode list. Then select the encryption mode (use 40/64-bit). There should be a blank field that says passphrase and a Generate button next to it.
The text entered as a passphrase, will generate a key. The key is a string of text, consisting of digits and characters. This key is your wireless password, NOT the passphrase.
So enter a short phrase in the passphrase box to generate a key and write the key down. To access your wireless network, you will need to enter the key. Click on Apply or Save Settings to store the key.
Another way of securing a wireless network is by using a VPN(Virtual Private Network). Using a VPN means allowing your encrypted data to travel through secured tunnels, provided by the service provider. There are various VPN service providers and you can subscribe to any one of them to get a secured wireless network.
Many may feel setting up a firewall can protect your computer from being infiltrated. A firewall can stop threats from entering your network but it does not block out anyone who is trying to access your wireless network. So, follow the simple steps outlined above, to enjoy a secure wireless network.