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How to protect your wireless network
Wi-Fi networks have made their way into our homes, and it is quite easy to understand why this has happened. Firstly, they are inexpensive. Then, they are really easy to install and maintain; once that the router is powered on and properly set up, all your devices can connect to the wireless network by simply choosing its name from a list, and then inputting the required password. And once that is done, you'll never have to touch anything for years in a row, right?
Well, while things will often happen that way, this isn't the ideal solution. Wireless networks require quite a bit of maintenance; otherwise, they may run poorly and will be exposed to hacker attacks. Here are some of the most effective tips that will help keep your Wi-Fi network in good shape.
Begin by choosing the strongest encryption protocol that is available. Older standards, such as WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) and even the more recent WPA (Wireless Protected Access) can be easily cracked by people who use fast PCs to run brute-force attacks, or have access to powerful computer farms. So, always choose the WPA2 encryption mechanism, which has much fewer vulnerabilities in comparison with the older Wi-Fi encryption protocols.
Be sure to utilize strong passwords. One of the biggest mistakes that people can make is to keep using the default router password. This makes it really easy for cyber villains to get access to it, and then connect to the wireless network. So, ensure that you pick an uncommon password for your router.
It goes without saying that the network password should be a complex one as well. But since you won't need to remember those passwords, it is always a good idea to utilize an online password generator such as this one, and then write those two (router and network) passwords in a notebook. A strong password will always mix upper and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters. To keep your network rock-solid, you should change passwords at least 3-4 times per year. It may sound like overkill, but this 10-minute process will give you peace of mind.
By default, routers will create wireless networks that have predefined names. Often, the manufacturers' names are included in the default network names, also known as SSIDs. This makes it really easy for hackers who have discovered your Wi-Fi network to uncover your router's particular vulnerabilities on the web. So, why not make their job much harder? Choose an inconspicuous SSID for your wireless network, such as "home33". To add an additional layer of protection, you can choose to hide the SSID for good in your router's settings; however, some devices (especially older ones) may not be able to connect to your Wi-Fi anymore.
But how do you determine if an unknown device is connected to your wireless network? Fortunately, there are several applications that can be installed on your smart phone and will do a great job. Here's a link to the NetX Android app, which is able to discover all the devices that are connected to a particular network.
Don't forget that router manufacturers patch their products regularly. So, do your best to update the firmware regularly; it will help keep the hackers at bay. Additionally, some updates will also increase data transfer speeds.
Did you know that most routers allow you to set up their radio broadcast power? Some of them have a tiny switch that is placed on the front router panel and allows you to set the Wi-Fi power, while others include this feature in one of the router's admin panels. By setting the broadcast power to a smaller value, you will limit the range of your router, and thus make it much harder for cybercriminals to connect to it.
It makes no sense to keep your router powered on when you aren't using it, of course. So, if you don't need a wireless Internet connection at night, turn off your router. By doing this, you will prolong its life, save quite a bit of energy, and prevent hackers from connecting to your Wi-Fi network.