If you have a Wi-Fi network at home or in a small office, intruders may be after you, who troll city streets, looking for unprotected wireless networks. It may not just be malicious attackers who cause problems. If you don’t change the defaults of your wireless network, a neighbor with the same router make and model might accidentally connect to your network, stealing your bandwidth or reconfiguring your router and network without your knowledge.
Fear not, though. There’s plenty you can do to protect yourself.
1) Change your administrator password – Before you do anything else, change the administrator password on your router. Every model of router comes preconfigured with a standard password, and hackers know this. So it’s exceedingly easy for someone to hop onto your network, gain full control over its administrative rights and wreak havoc.
2) Stop broadcasting your network’s SSID and change its name – Your service set identifier (SSID) is your network’s name, and if people know what your SSID is, it’s easier for them to find your network and connect to it. Your router broadcasts its SSID, and that broadcast tells passersby there’s a network there. It also gives out the name. So, if you turn off SSID broadcasting, you’ll go partway toward keeping casual users from seeing your network. But doing that, by itself, won’t necessarily solve the problem. Even if you stop broadcasting your network’s name, people might still be able to connect to your network. That’s because manufacturers generally ship their wireless routers with the same generic SSID. So, even if you stop broadcasting your SSID, intruders can easily guess your router’s name and log on. To solve the problem, first change your SSID’s name, and then hide it
3) Enabling encryption – Wi-Fi networks are incredibly convenient and incredibly easy to spy upon. All that data going out over the air among your PCs and between your PCs and the Internet can easily be snooped on by anyone nearby using simple, off-the-shelf software such as packet sniffers. Using encryption is the single most important step to protect your home or small office network.
4) Turn off your network when you’re not using it – This simple precaution can go a very long way toward keeping you safe: Simply turn off your router when you’re not using your network. The less time your wireless network is available, the less likely it is to get hacked.
5) Checking for wireless intruders – You can never be too safe, and so even if you’ve taken all this advice, it’s a good idea to check your network to see if intruders have made their way in. And if you haven’t taken all this advice, that’s all the more reason to check.
By Mukti Sharma