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How to Set Up Your Home Wireless Security

Don’t leave yourself open to internet thievery! Learn Tech Talker’s steps to keep your Wi-Fi network safe

By
Eric Escobar,
December 7, 2011
Episode #007

 

Hey everyone, my name is Eric Escobar and I’m the Tech Talker!

It seems like in today’s ever-expanding world of gadgets, there are more and more uses for WiFi hotspots and wireless routers at home. Nowadays, every home is full of WiFi enabled devices such as laptops, Kindles, smartphones, tablets, streaming media boxes, printers, and webcams. This surge of devices that operate on WiFi is just another reason to make sure your home wireless network is safe!

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So, first things first, why is network security so important?

Well let me give you a quick scenario: Say you live in an apartment complex and have no wireless security. This basically means if anyone is close enough to your wireless router, they will be able to connect to it and use your internet like it was their own – for free! Sure, you might get lucky and the internet thief might just be cheap and stealing your internet instead of buying their own. The only thing this would do is cause your connection to be slower. A bummer, yes, but not the end of the world. But say they download some copyrighted material over your wireless network. Guess who would be the one ultimately responsible for piracy? You – because the material was downloaded on your network! This can even go a step further if someone were to use your network to look up something more sinister. Then you might find a few men in black suits with sunglasses and earpieces knocking on your door in the middle of the night!

Now that I’ve scared you into listening to the rest of this podcast, here are steps you could take to keep this from happening to you:

Wi-Fi Protection Options

Wireless security comes in the form of a password you have to type in on most wireless networks before you can get access to files and the internet. For home use, this comes down to 4 different types of security. Without getting into the nitty gritty of authentication, packets, encryption, and pre-shared keys, here is the quick summary of these 4 different types of security:

None/Open – This means you have no password and anyone can get on your wireless network – a bad idea, as we saw earlier. 

WEP - The next best level of security (after None) is WEP. However, it’s not much better than having an open network because it is extremely easy for even a kid to hack in with some free software.

WPA –WPA was originally created to address the weaknesses of WEP and is generally next to impossible for even the most tech-savvy teenager to crack. If you have a strong password then I’d say you’re pretty safe.

WPA2 - WPA2 is more secure than WPA, but because WPA2 is so new to the market, not all devices will be compatible with it.

If you have an old wireless printer or some other gadget that’s a few years old, I would just review the user manual to double check which type of security is best. But regardless which type you use, I highly recommend always using some type of security on your network to prevent it from staying wide open and inviting intruders.

How to Keep Your Wireless Network Safe

If you aren’t sure whether or not your wireless router has security enabled or if you want to double check to see what security method you currently have in place, it’s pretty easy to find out. First, go find your router and its user manual. Many of these manuals will have a space where you are supposed to fill in your information as you set it up. From there, look for something called a “default IP address.” Type it into your computer’s internet browser and it will ask you to login and then bring you to your router’s configuration page. If you have more questions about how to do this, I‘ve posted a few links and videos below to better understand this process.


Here are your 4 Quick and Dirty Tips to securing your wireless internet:

  1. Choose a strong security method such as WPA or WPA2

  2. Make sure you have a password that is 12 characters or more

  3. Only give your wireless password to people you trust

  4. Change your password once a year just to be safe

Well that’s all for today!

Have a question about anything in this episode? Or a suggestion for a future podcast? Send me an email at techtalker@quickanddirtytips.com or post it on the Tech Talker Facebook wall.
Until next time, I’m the Tech Talker, keeping technology simple!

How to Find Your Router’s IP Address

(Mac) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Nt0qLLczNA

(Windows) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFboZDZQRrg

How to Log Into Your Router

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=zlxy9OqI8O0

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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