Protect your wireless network from unwanted devices
One of the great things about home routers – wired and wireless – is that they usually automatically assign IP addresses to devices that are trying to connect to the network. Since most users know nothing about IP addresses, subnet masks, and other details, it is effective and convenient to allow the router to take care of these details.
The disadvantage of this convenience, however, is that the router does not show any discretion as to which devices to assign addresses. A wireless device that is within range of your wireless network equipment may be able to obtain an IP address from your router. Once added to the network, the connected device has access to all open network resources, including unsecured media streams and weakly protected local files.
An ounce of prevention
For small networks such as a home network, you can add additional security by turning off DHCP or automatic IP addressing, the router feature, and manually assigning static IP addresses.
Refer to the wireless network router or access point owner’s manual to learn how to access the administration and configuration screen and disable DHCP functionality. After doing this, you will need to configure each of your wireless network devices with a static IP address, not to automatically obtain IP address information via DHCP.
To find out what your current IP address information is, you can follow these steps:
- Click Start, andthen click Run
- Type a commandfollowed by Enter
- Type ipconfig / allin the Command Prompt console and press Enter
- The displayed results will show you the current IP address, the subnet mask and the default gateway, as well as the current DNS servers.
To reconfigure a device’s IP address settings in Windows, follow these steps:
- Click Start, andthen click Control Panel
- Click Network Connections
- Find the device you want to configure
- Right-click on it and select Properties
- Under the T connection it uses thewindow of the following items , scroll to the Internet Protocol (TCP / IP) entry and click the Properties button
- Select the radio button next to Use the following IP addressand enter the IP address, subnet mask, and default gateway of your choice (use the information extracted above for reference)
- Select the radio button next to Use the following DNS serveraddresses and enter the DNS server IP addresses from the information extracted above
Protect the router
Set a strong administrator password on your wireless router. Take advantage of your built-in firewalls . Keeping your firmware up to date is also an important factor in your overall network security.
If you continue to use vulnerable WEP-based encryption and your router does not support the newer Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 standard, then it may be time to buy a new router. Is your router too old to be protected?