Set up a Secure Wireless Network at Home

Article ID: 
1117

When setting up wireless at home, make sure to configure your box to protect your:

  • bandwidth (don't let neighbors hog it)
  • record (the net can be used for illegal activity)
  • identifiable information (online banking, purchases, travel plans, etc.)
  • computer (which could be compromised)

Secure your wireless router by taking these important steps:

Initial Setup and Placement

  • Change the admin password (make it a strong one)
  • Update the firmware (consider updating the drivers on your wireless card as well)
  • Disable remote administration
  • Place the router in a central location (keep away from outside walls and adjust its range)

Router Configuration

  • Use MAC address filtering (specify what MAC addresses you allow onto your network and hard code those into the router’s MAC filtering list)
  • Pick a unique SSID (Service Set Identifier) and hide it (DON'T use the default; make sure you're not broadcasting the SSID)
  • Change the default network addressing (to an another private RFC1918 network)
  • Disable DHCP on the wireless network (prevents someone connecting to your wireless router from obtaining an IP address)
  • Turn off the router when away

Use the Strongest Encryption Option

  • WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy): 40-Bit or 104-Bit key algorithm, first cracked in 2001, now can be hacked as fast as 30 seconds; it has therefore been deprecated by IEEE as no longer meeting security goals
  • WPA-TKIP: Uses 128-Bit encryption keys and dynamic session keys; made to be backwards compatible with Pre-WPA hardware
  • WPA2-AES (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2): Uses the new Advanced Encryption Standard; not backward compatible

Useful Resources

This article is:

Note: All visitors can mark pages Helpful or Incorrect. If you log in with a Brown username and password, you will also have the ability to save articles as Favorites and send us detailed feedback.