Wireless Security

5 Simple Steps

Wireless Internet can be difficult to secure for many home users. Often times, security precautions are viewed as unnecessary. Implementing some basic steps can protect computers and family members. Unauthorized people using your wireless Internet can leave you responsible for their misdeeds.

  1. Use passwords. This is the easiest step that you can take to secure your wireless Internet. Most computer systems will remember your password so that you will not have to type it each time. Instead of using a single word or a confusing mix of letters and numbers, try using a phrase or quote. These are easier to remember and provide better security.
  2. Disable SSIDs. An SSID can be considered the name of your wireless Internet. Disabling or changing your SSID can prevent some attacks against your home. If you choose to only change your SSID, do not use your apartment number, family name, phone number or any personal information. This information can be seen by anyone and may help potential intruders locate you.
  3. Enable encryption. Using wireless encryption can help prevent a large number of attacks. Encryption can confuse people who are trying to snoop on your Internet sessions while you socialize, read your email, or pay your bills. WEP is a common option offered to most all wireless devices, but it is weak and users are not encouraged to use it when other options exist. WPA and WPA2 are modern options and should be used where available. Like passwords, many computer systems can remember your settings.
  4. Filter MAC address. If you only want a small number of computers to access your wireless Internet, consider filtering MAC addresses. These are semi-unique numbers that can identify specific computers. Once these few MAC addresses are added to a filter list, only those machines will be allowed to access your wireless Internet.
  5. Enable logging. This suggestion will not help protect you, but it may help you determine who has been using your wireless Internet. Logging records users' MAC address and, possibly, what sites they have visited. Your internet providor will appreciate your efforts in helping them identify possible intrusions or misdeeds. Law enforcement can also take advantage of logs to determine offenders. Once logging has been enabled, you will not have to visit the option again. It will work silently in the background.

The above steps can be followed to help increase your safety online and at home. By taking actions to protect wireless Internet, you can help stop intruders from gaining access to your personal information, finding you or your family, and using your Internet to commit other crimes.

OJJDP Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Continuation Program 2010-MC-CX-K009

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