Wi-Fi has become a standard in most homes; this is due to the fact that not many people are sitting in front of a desktop anymore. Unfettered by Ethernet cables, People check e-mail, shop, and interact with each other from more comfortable locations. A secure wireless network in place can help you have peace of mind while you surf from anywhere in your home. Wi-Fi gives a sense of freedom to be able to take your laptop computer and decide where you want to access the internet from. This freedom does come at a price, though, and is dependent on a secure wireless network. You can be the target of people trying to intercept your private information. You connection may also be abused by someone local to you, who can piggyback their way to the internet with your signal. With a few basic precautions you can have a secure wireless network safe from hackers, war drivers (people who drive around neighborhoods looking for signals to use) and people trying to piggyback your signal. Here is the how to guide: Changing the password on your LAN router is a must. Some routers use a default password that was set by the manufacturer. People who might try to exploit your router will know all these default passwords. Others may not have a password set at all. Anytime you set up a router for the first time you must set up your own password. Try not to use passwords that are too simple. Using at least eight characters and making them alphanumeric (letters and numbers) should suffice for an adequate router password. If you have to write it down, put the password in a safe place. Don't leave it near the computer where someone may see it. Your router is the entry point to your network so changing the password is of the upmost importance to making a secure wireless network.
Here are the steps to change a password. Check the documentation of your specific router. 1. Open your Internet browser, type the address of the router into the URL address bar, and open it. The address is typically in the form of 192.168.X.X. This is the local network address. 2. Enter the account name and password to open the router setup utility. 3. Navigate through the setup utility until you see the screen that will let you change the password. You will need to enter the old password to change it. 4. Decide on a new password that has good security. The key to a secure wireless network is the complexity of your password. This doesn't mean that you have to go to any extreme either. Just follow the password guidelines mentioned previously. 5. Enter the old password in the change password page of the router. When prompted, you will enter your new password twice, to confirm spelling. 6. Confirm the change and close the interface to the router. Reopen the Internet Browser and go back to your router page. Type in your account name and the new password to confirm the change. Making your network invisible to everyone else is the next step in protecting it and making it a secure wireless network. To do this you have to stop broadcasting your address. Your router will constantly transmit its SSID (service set identifier). Disabling this transmission will block unwanted parties from seeing your network as available. Additionally you may want to change the default SSID of your router. Make it something that you will remember. Companies have not shown much imagination when choosing SSID's. For instance, Linksys uses "Linksys". Any information that you can prevent someone from obtaining is more secure. Here are the steps to disable your SSID from being broadcast on your secure wireless network. Always check with your router documentation. 1. Open your Internet browser, type the address of the router into the URL address bar, and open it. The address is typically in the form of 192.168.X.X. This is the local network address. 2. Enter the account name and password to open the router setup utility. Router Administration Screen
3. To get to the SSID broadcasting function go to Wireless Network Settings. 4. Locate the box to de-select the ability of the router to broadcast your SSID. On many routers this may be a box marked “invisible.” The box should be checked, so simply uncheck it in order to stop the broadcast. 5. Some routers have a save button or link while others ask you to save when you log out or try to navigate away from the configuration site. Either way, make sure you save your changes or your SSID will still be openly broadcast across what should be your secure wireless network. You can also enable MAC address filtering. Basically what this service does is accept or reject a user based on the MAC address of the user's network card. A MAC (Media Access Control) address is "burned" into the NIC (Network Interface Card). Each one is unique and made up from two halves. The first half of a MAC address contains the ID number of the adapter manufacturer. These IDs are regulated by an Internet standards body. The second half of a MAC address represents the serial number assigned to the adapter by the manufacturer. The router set up in a secure wireless network will only accept information from the MAC addresses listed in the table stored in its memory. This step is worthwhile if you have one computer in your home network or ten computers.
Here are the steps to enable MAC filtering on your router. As always check with your router documentation first. The first step is to decide what devices are on your network. 1. Click the Start Button. 2. Select "Run" from the bottom right hand side of the menu (Note: If Run is not listed as an option in Vista, hold down the Windows key and press the R-key. 3. When the Run dialog box opens, type "cmd" (no quotation marks) and hit OK. 4. In the window that opens, type "ipconfig /all" (again no quotation marks) and hit the "Enter" key. 5. The 12-digit sequence of numbers and letters that show up under the heading "Physical Address" is the MAC address. 6 .Record the MAC address of each wireless adapter.  For wireless USB adapters the MAC address is usually on a sticker on the device itself. 7. Repeat this process for all the devices you want on your secure wireless network. For printers it'll usually be on a sticker, you may have to print a configuration page. 8. Once you have a list of all the MAC addresses, Log into the control panel for your router on your secure wireless network using the IP address, this may be 192.168.x.x. Go to advanced network configuration and prepare to enter the addresses. Now you have to be careful. DO NOT apply the filter until you add the MAC address for the computer you are on right now. 9. Add your own computers MAC address. Continue to setup the other devices that you want to be able to connect to your home wireless network. 10. Once you have added all the devices including the computer you are on, enable the wireless MAC address filter. You may think that using at least one of these methods is sufficient to deter would-be attackers and complete your secure wireless network but don't be fooled. Any determined person with the right tools can still see your network in all its radio frequency goodness. So to give yourself and your network the best chance to remain anonymous and safe you should institute all these precautions.
You should also enable encryption on your secure wireless network. Encryption is the process of scrambling data sent and received from your router. You can use WEP, WPA or WPA2. The type of encryption you choose depends on the computers and equipment you have in your home. Some older wireless cards will not support WPA. While WEP is considered obsolete, it is certainly preferable to having none at all. If your devices support WPA2, then this is the encryption that you should use. Here are the steps used to set up encryption on your router 1. Open your Internet browser, type the address of the router into the URL address bar, and open it. The address is typically in the form of 192.168.X.X. This is the local network address. 2. Enter the account name and password to open the router setup utility. 3. Find and click the link for changing security settings. On this page you can enable encryption. 4. Select an encryption type and create a password or passcode. Most routers offer two encryption types to secure your wireless network. WEP (Wired Equivalency Privacy) is the least protective---and most outdated---encryption setting. To log in, users must enter a numeric key. WPA is a more protective encryption setting and requires users to enter an alphanumeric password before they can log on to the wireless network. To set the password, simply type it into the textbox and again in the "Confirm Password" textbox. 5. Save your changes and log out. After making these changes in security settings, click "Save" or "Apply" before exiting the security settings menu. To log out of the wireless router, return to the main page and click  the "Logout" link. Lastly, Ad-hoc networking should be disabled. Ad-hoc is a network between two computers where a router is not needed at all. For a secure wireless network Ad-hoc should be disabled on your computer at all times unless you are in a specific Ad-hoc situation/environment. If another computer was in close enough proximity then you could find your information in jeopardy. If you are in a secure wireless network where a router is being used to provide the connection to the network then an Ad- hoc condition does not exist and should remain disabled. Here are the steps to disable Ad-Hoc connections to your computer 1. Locate and right-click on the Wireless icon on your desktop. It will be at the bottom right of your screen.
2. Choose the View Available Networks from the list that is shown after you have right-clicked on the wireless icon. 3. You will have a window open that now shows all wireless network connections. Click on the Network you wish to change first then select Change advanced settings, this option will be in the left hand window. 4. Select the Wireless Networks tab, and then select the advanced button in this window. 5. In the window that is now visible - make sure that any available network (access point preferred) is checked and that Computer-to-computer (ad hoc) networks is not checked. Click the close button. 6. Click ok. It may seem like a lot of steps to take but your computer security is only as good as the environment that you set up for it. Relying on anti-virus and spyware programs will not protect you as much as a secure wireless network. Secure Wireless Connection by PC Apprentice 2009 - 2017 If computers get too powerful, we can organize them into a committee. That will do them in. - Bradley's Bromide

Secure Wireless Network