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5 Steps to Help Protect Your Home Wireless Network

Gary Devan,<br />
Chief Information OfficerProtecting your confidential information during the Information Age is important—and a key component of your strategy to reduce your risk of identity theft is how you set up your home wireless network.

It is common for households to utilize wireless technology for convenience and mobility around the house, but let’s not forget the use of wireless connections outside the home: airports, hotels, coffee houses, and others—even walking down the street. We use it at home, around town, on business trips and even while vacationing—which means there are plenty of chances for us to let our Internet guard down.

A home wireless network requires a broadband Internet connection in your house, such as a cable or DSL connection utilizing a modem connected to a wireless router. The router broadcasts a signal that can reach several hundred feet. Any computer (in the house or outside) within this range can access your wireless network—provided it has wireless access capability—and gain access to the Internet. Did you know that your neighbors, and even hackers, can utilize your network to perform questionable activities on the Internet without your knowledge? And if anyone’s Internet activity includes something illegal, it could be traced back to your broadband account!

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your network:

  1. Turn on encryption on your wireless router. If your router does not allow encryption, replace it. The extra cost is worth the extra protection.
  2. On your computers, implement anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a firewall. This is very important when using public wireless networks.
  3. If your router allows identifier broadcasting, turn it off. You know the network exists; there is no need to broadcast it for everyone to see—including hackers.
  4. Change the default identifier on your router so that it is not the standard used by the manufacturer. Hackers know standard manufacturer IDs.
  5. Change the router’s preset password. Hackers know these preset passwords. Use a strong password—long and not easily guessed. (You can refer to my previous blog that discusses setting passwords.)

These are just a few tips, but there is much more information available on Internet security from good resources such as www.ftc.gov/bcp/menus/consumer/tech/privacy.shtm. And I will be discussing more security tips periodically on the Bottom Line Blog and in Mission Fed’s quarterly newsletters. Knowledge is power, so be sure to stay informed.

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