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How to secure a wireless home network
Learn how to secure a wireless home network using Encryption, MAC Filtering, and SSID tricks
January 4, 2006
Peter Davis
If you're worried that someone might access your wireless network at home and do some 'bad' things or get a hold of some private information then maybe it's time you learn how to secure your network.
Overview
Any wireless router that is worth the plastic it's made out of will have features that will allow you to secure your wireless network at home. This article discusses the three main ways in which you can add different layers of protection to your wireless network to be sure that nobody else is peeking in on you or using your internet connection for their own pleasure.

The three different security measures are Encryption, MAC Filtering, and preventing the broadcast of your wireless network name.

Accessing Your Router Settings
The first thing you want to do is access your router settings. This is usually accomplished by entering the IP of the router in your web browser's address bar. For example, if the IP of your router is 192.168.2.1, then enter that IP in Internet Explorer (or the browser of your choice) and it should bring you to your router's settings page.

Note: You will most likely be asked for a password before you can enter the settings page. Look in your router's manual for the default router password. It is also a good idea to change this password from the default setting for added security.

Encryption
This is probably the most important security feature that you can enable on your router. Once you've entered the router's settings page, navigate to the Wireless Security area. Depending on the router you have this may be under the Security section or the Wireless section or possibly under the Advanced section. Once you've found it you want to make sure that wireless security is enabled.

The most common choice is to enable Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encryption. Most likely there is also an option that will also ask you what strength of encryption you'd like, 64-bit or 128-bit. The larger the number of bits, the stronger the encryption. The choice is up to you but you'll be secure with either one.

Next you will need to create an encryption key. Some routers will auto-generate an encryption key for you or you may have to make one up yourself. If you have to make a key yourself then type in a random string of characters (using only numbers and letters A through F). 64-bit encryption uses keys that are 10 characters in length while 128-bit encryption uses keys that are 26 characters in length.

The router may require you to enter more than one key; if so just do the same thing for the other keys. Once you've finished, save the settings and write down one of the encryption keys. You'll need that key later on to setup your computers.

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