n100-2078-main-wifi.jpgHey guys! I’m back again with some tips for you on how to keep your systems / Networks safe when you buy a wireless router. I recently had to set up my friend’s Netgear WNR834B Wireless Draft N Router (GREAT Product by the way), and it made me think.

Unlike what the so-called experts want you to believe, Identity theft and getting your system hacked is NOT the worst thing that can happen to your computer. In my opinion, there is nothing worse than a hacker committing a big cyber-crime and leaving YOUR Calling card behind at the scene…. Your IP address!!

Before I go too far and scare you off the web for good…

Truth be told, Real Hackers are not interested in taking your pictures of “Grandma Jane” or a drunken “Uncle Billy” at the family reunion; a real hacker wouldn’t even really be interested in your credit cards or your “OK” credit simply because there is NO real MONEY in it and NO RESPECT from the cyber-underworld.

While Identity theft is real, identity thieves, rarely ever get anything from personal computers. They are opportunistic and usually know very little about computer and network systems. Hackers think big and will only use your PC as a stepping-stone to score a much bigger fish. That said, a laptop, a car and free time cruising a neighborhood locating open wireless networks are all a good hack needs to set up an attack. This is why it’s important to get your wireless network as secured as possible.

…Let Me Tell You How To Protect Yourself

There are a couple of points you should understand. First, there is NO SINGLE airtight security method! Your security scheme should be multi-layered and should use basic yet effective network settings as well as encryption. All these methods used together will keep hackers as well as your next-door neighbors from utilizing your Wireless Internet connection.

So you just got a wireless router… what do you do now?

1 – Change your Admin Password
2 – Change your DHCP Settings and close that range
3 – Use Encryption
4 – Hide Your SSID
5 – Use MAC Address Filtering

Now, Let’s Go Through These One by One:

1-Password…Password…Password

Most people leave their administrator password blank or just leave the default password that’s included in the router’s firmware. Always change the administrator’s password before you do anything else. Don’t use words included in the dictionary, Birth Dates, First Names or anything that people can easily guess. Use a combination of letters and numbers for your passwords. The longer the better. “Well, what Kind of Password should I Use?” – Here’s an Example: “43ver1ock3d” Which you can read as “For Ever Locked” – See? I have simply substituted some words or letters with numbers. A password like this will take a LONG time to break. (Please don’t use that one! Many people will read this article.)

2-DHCP Settings (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol)

The DHCP server on your router automatically assigns IP and, DNS and Gateway info to the network clients (Desktops and Laptops). You should close your DHCP range. You should have NO More than 2 free Spots on your router; that means: if you have 4 Computers on the network you should only have 6 IP available for distribution. Think of your network as meeting room with limited seating, and this technique as one way to keep the crowds out of your network (or meeting room).

3-Encryption

Like I said before: Password… Password… Password…
There are various encryptions you can use with your wireless system and I recommend WPA or WPA2 simply because you can create passwords like in Step One… Note: It’s important that your password for your wireless Encryption be different from your router’s admin password. So you can use something like “9oo61uck2u” which you can read as “Good luck to you” (See? Making a good password is not hard to do… and now you know how to keep you wife or girlfriend off your email account!)

4-Hide your SSID (Service Set Identifier)

Hiding you SSID is also another thing you can do to keep you network safe – Hiding your SSID makes your network somewhat invisible to wireless clients.

5-MAC Address Filtering (optional, but I highly recommend it)

Using MAC Address filtering is by far the most important thing you can do to keep you network safe. It allows you to restrict the actual computers allowed on the network.
That means that even if someone managed to guess your IP range, the router would automatically kick him off the network…(It’s like a badge that allows you into a locked room) MAC address filtering is HARD to beat. The only drawback with this method is the need to add every network client to the list… so if your friends come over you need to add their MAC address to the router… No Big Deal, when you consider the alternative.

And There You Have it

Remember, that when it comes to your network security, no SINGLE solution will do. You will need to use as many of the router’s features as possible. The WEP, WPA, WAP2 encryptions will only take you so far and trust me when I tell you there are a multitude of tools out there that will break them in a reasonable amount of time. Always use complex (Yet simple to remember) passwords. Restrict the amount of IP’s that your DHCP Server is allowed to assign. Make your network invisible and hide your SSID. Used MAC address filtering and only allow specific computers onto your network.

Related Links: Netgear WNR834B Wireless Draft N Router