When you enable the Wi-Fi wireless features on your router, you immediately put the data on all your connected computers at risk. Hackers or unauthorized users who use, or "piggy-back," your Wi-Fi connection also consume precious bandwidth that could slow your browsing and streaming experience and perhaps even cause your Internet bill to increase if you go over your allotted data transfer amount. Securing your router and network from outside intruders is relatively simple and takes only a few minutes.
Go to a desktop or laptop computer connected to the wireless router with an RJ-45 Ethernet cable. Launch a Web browser and enter the IP address of the router's administrative control panel into the address bar. The control panel IP address varies depending on the router. However, for many routers, the control panel IP address is "192.168.0.1," "192.168.1.1" or something similar. If you are not sure of the IP address to use for accessing your router's control panel, refer to its user guide or owners manual.
Log in to the router control panel with the default administrator username and password. Again, refer to the user guide if you do not know the default username and password for your particular router. Click "Login" or "OK" to display the main administrative control panel page in your browser.
Click the “Wireless,” "Wireless Network" or other similarly named tab or menu option on the main control panel page. Click the "Basic Wireless Settings" or "Wireless Network Configuration" link or option.
Click the "SSID" or “Wireless Network Name" field and change the default network name. Note that the default network name is usually that of the router manufacturer. Change the default name value to something easy to remember yet hard for others to guess. Click the "Save" or "Save Changes" button to save the changes to the network or SSID name.
Scroll down to the "Security," "Security Options," "Wireless Security" or other similarly named option on the wireless settings page of the control panel. Select the desired encryption protocol for securing the wireless network. Depending on the model of your router, there may be several encryption protocol options available. Common encryption protocols used with modern routers include WEP, WPA and WPA2. WEP, or Wireless Encryption Protocol, is the oldest of the three and found on almost all routers made after 1999. However, it is also the least secure. Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) provides better encryption for computers connected to the wireless router and uses a TKIP (Temporal Integrity Protocol) that changes the access key periodically and makes guessing or hacking the key for the router much more difficult. WPA2 is a more robust version of WPA and adds full IEEE 802.11 standard compliance for faster transmissions. Most modern wireless routers support the WPA2 protocol, and it is the one you should use if your device offers it as an option.
Enter a unique passphrase in the appropriate field on the wireless settings page. When entering a password or phrase, choose one that is easy for you to remember yet hard for hackers or others to guess. Use a password that is at least 12 characters in length and includes a combination of letters, numbers and characters. Users on your wireless network must know the correct passphrase before the router allows them to download the encryption key and access the network.
Click the "Save" or "Save Settings" button on the wireless settings page of the control panel. When prompted to do so, click the "Reboot" or "Restart" button. Close the Web browser after restarting the router.
Record the WPA2 passphrase or key you entered on the wireless security settings page of the control panel. Go to one of your computers that uses a wireless adapter to access the router. Click the wireless antenna icon in the Windows Quick Launch tray on the task bar and next to the time and date display. A list of detected wireless networks appears after you click the icon.
Choose the SSID or network name of your wireless router in the popup list, then click the "Connect" button. Enter the WPA2 passphrase phrase when prompted, then click "Connect” again. Windows negotiates the connection with the wireless router, then downloads and configures the encryption key automatically.
Open a Web browser on the wirelessly connected computer and surf the Internet as you normally would. Connect to the wireless router from other computers as needed.
- If control panel for your wireless router has a "Disable SSID Broadcasting" or other similarly named menu option, enable it to prevent access to your Wi-Fi router outside your home. When you disable SSID broadcasting, hackers or snoopers cannot access your wireless router unless they already know the specific SSID or network name used for the device.
- Router user guide or manual
- Help Desk Geek: What is the Difference Between WPA and WEP Wireless Security Encryption?
- Linksys by Cisco – Learning Center: How to Secure Your Network
- Cisco Knowledge Base: Setting Up Wireless Security on a Linksys Router
- Columbia University Information Technology: Linksys WRT54G Setup
- PCMag.com: How to Set up a Wireless Home Network
- Netgear Support: Wireless Router Setup Manual
- Microsoft Windows: Set up a Wireless Router
- Microsoft at Home: 5 Steps – How to Set up Your Home Wireless Network
- Cisco: Accessing the Linksys Wireless-G VPN Router's Web-Based Setup Page
- Cisco: Setting-Up a Linksys Wireless-G VPN Router With DSL Internet
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