The age of wireless network has granted freedom from the hassles of wired ones, and increased the mobility for computer systems users. Such networks enable the users to access the Internet, without the constraints of being physically near to the line of connection. Despite the security threats involved, many people never take the matter of securing their wireless networks seriously. It is important to setup a secure wireless network, as it prevents unauthorized people from easily connecting to the network to download various things. Here are a few basics on how to secure a wireless network.
SSID (Service Set Identifier) is the name given to a particular network. It is necessary for all devices on the wireless network to use the same SSID, in order to communicate with each other. The SSID of a wireless network can be set up manually, or it can be generated automatically. While setting the SSID manually, it is important to make it something difficult to figure out. Routers and access point devices generally provide a methodology to change the SSID for network access. For this purpose, the first step is to log into the router through the web browser (like Internet Explorer). A window appears asking for user name and password, which are both ADMIN by default. As soon as the user enters the password, the router configuration window opens. The SSID should be entered here, and a wireless channel should be chosen. While securing a wireless network, the user should not forget to disable his SSID wireless broadcast, before applying the changes.
WEP and WPA Encryptions
Encryption is an important aspect of network security and helps to protect the user data from snooping or prying eyes. Almost all the wireless equipment comes with WEP (wired equivalent privacy) and WPA (Wi-Fi protected access) encryption schemes. These encryption schemes can be enabled or disabled, depending on the requirement of the user. WEP is a scheme which was included with the first generation of wireless networking equipments. However, it consisted of some serious flaws, which led to the development of WPA. WPA provides stronger wireless data encryption as compared to WEP but requires the configuration of all the communicating devices for it’s functioning. After enabling encryption on his router or access point, one should configure other wireless network devices. WPA provides better security against snoopers and hackers. For the configuration of WEP / WPA, the user should log on to the router and enable the wireless tab / wireless security. He can make a choice between WEP or WPA encryption, the latter being more secured. The user can also choose between 64 or 128 bit encryption. A hexadecimal WEP / WPA key should be generated before applying the changes.
After the configuration of WEP / WPA and SSID, the last step involves the restriction of user access in the wireless network. This can be done by entering the MAC address of the wireless computer and selecting ‘restrict access’, during the router configuration. MAC address of a computer can easily be seen by typing “ipconfig/all”, in the command prompt. The above mentioned steps are a simple answer for how to secure a wireless network. After configuring the router, the user should unplug it from the wireless computer, and install the wireless software and adapters on the wireless computer. The WEP / WPA encryption key should be kept in records safely, and when prompted, the user should enter it.