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+++ For most home and small business users, a wireless network is basically a set of devices that enable all of the personal computers in your location to use a broadband internet connection simultaneously. Wireless networks don't use cables for connections, but instead use radio waves, like cordless phones. Also known as Wi-Fi, or Wireless Fidelity, wireless networks allow you to use your networked computers or laptops anywhere in an office or home. Wireless networking is also available in public "hotspots," like coffee shops, hotel rooms and lobbies, and airports. You may have heard the term "Internet Cafe". This refers to a place of business (most often, a coffee shop) which offers wireless network access for anyone who wants to bring in a laptop equipped with a wireless network card. The wireless network card picks up the wireless network signal and the two communicate over that signal. Here's a web page which talks about the wireless network security risks of using Internet Cafes, if you are interested. But, just as with a cell phone, a wireless network (and any computer you have connected to it) can be hacked, especially if it isn't secured. CAVEAT and Disclaimer: Wireless networks are inherently unsafe and cannot be completely secured, as there are hackers who will always be one step ahead of the commercial security vendors. So I, Ellen Davis, do not guarantee that your wireless network security will be impenetrable after completing the steps offered on this site. However, in my opinion, the majority of hackers are going after bigger fish, and don't have much interest in your wireless home network, except maybe to use it for free internet access. So unless you are storing hundreds of credit card numbers on your computers for some reason, or you have some kind of important information that can be sold on the black market, or you make some hacker mad, applying the steps belowwill help ensure your wireless network security is at least better than it would be if you did nothing. Let's take a closer look at setting up a wireless network and the best practices for building in wireless network security. First, here¶s a list of components needed to build a basic home or small office wireless network:
Upgrade the drivers or the cards if you have to. IMPORTANT Note: If you have older network cards. 3. Purchase a wireless router and install it. 25. (Windows XP SP2 is compatible with WPA2 Personal encryption. 2. NOTE: Be careful about buying used routers. you need steps on how to secure a wireless network. 5. 6. which is what I recommend using). 3. 4. (This can be a cable company. which should be (or may already be) installed in each of your computers. 2. 10. Windows based personal computers. There are many different brands. and 50 foot lengths. For most wireless networks. the telephone company or a wireless tower provider ± shop around for the best deal). routers and network cards to WPA2. I've included the details on how to implement reliable wireless network security below:(I'm assuming that we are in your home or small business office. They cost around $60 in the big office supply or computer stores. and that you have a desktop PC wired into your broadband box and that you will be using a new Linksys router): 1. WPA2 enabled wired or wireless network adapters. the previous owner could install malicious software on them . because relying on any other security protocol like WEP is just not as good when it comes to wireless security. place an order for a broadband (aka high speed) internet service installation with your local internet service provider. and/or personal laptops with Windows XP SP2 installed. a desktop computer nearest to the broadband jack will be connected via a wired network card and cable. The wireless network security steps below. Here's the Microsoft page to do this. You may also need to upgrade Windows XP SP2 to be compatible with WPA2 security. Second. A broadband internet connection. also known as CAT 5 cables. If you aren't sure whether Windows XP and the network cards installed on your computer are enabled for WPA2. They come in 3. First. Laptops or any other computer not close to the router will be connected via wireless card (or long CAT 5 cable). you must have either a regular or wireless network card in all of the computers in your house. 6. If you haven¶t done so already. but I use Linksys wireless routers because they are reliable and easy to set up. Ethernet cables. Desktop and laptop computers won¶t need a cable if a wireless network card in installed. they may not be compatible with the new WPA2 security protocol.1. A wireless router that supports WPA and WPA2 encryption. here's an excellent page that walks you through how to upgrade Windows XP.
Follow each of these steps to make sure your wireless network security is reliable and your network is safe from outside intrusion: a. I would use at least 14 characters. You will need if you want to access your router later to make changes. Following the instructions that come with the router. Both WEP and WPA have already been cracked by hackers. I hate to tell you to write it down. choose security mode "WPA2 Personal". such as a combination of letters and numbers. c. when you try to connect your wireless clients to your network. Enable Encryption. Later. Change it to a password that includes both letters and numbers. please check that the wireless card in the computer is actually compatible with WPA/WPA2. 5. b. and you don't want to upgrade it. and save the setting.that could hurt your computer. Avoid using words that can be found in a dictionary. Note: If you have an older router that supports WEP only. and every hacker knows that too. WPA2 is the most secure. You'll be at least safer if you use 128-bit WEP keys. set it up next to the computer that is plugged into the broadband connection box. The newest and most secure kind of encryption is WPA2. make sure you either remember it or note it somewhere secure. Make sure you can remember the key. Then choose algorithms "TKIP+AES". the card utility should automatically ask you for the preshared key. . Also. please remember that WEP is very easy to crack. It can be from 8 to 63 characters. you must. but I would recommend that you check the router manufacturer's website for a firmware upgrade that will add WPA support. so don¶t leave it unchanged. Choose a strong password for your encryption key. Change the default password. Change the default wireless network name or SSID to something unique but not personal (no social security numbers or house addresses). If not. Linksys routers offer several kinds of security protocols ± WPA. WPA2 and WEP are the major types. Enter it twice and you should get connected. When the router setup asks you to choose a wireless security encryption method. but if you must. Leave the key renewal interval as it is. Linksys sets a default password of admin. New is better if you don¶t know how to clean them up. Linksys sets the default name to Linksys on their routers and every hacker in the world knows that. The name you choose can be up to 32 characters long and you need to be able to remember it. IMPORTANT!! SECURE your wireless router. so I would implement it over the other choices. so your wireless network won't be as secure. 4.
there is a switch or button on the laptop that turns the wireless network card on or off. Note: Look for the wireless signal strength in the system tray located in the bottom right hand corner of your Windows desktop. That's not good wireless network security. A wireless router can broadcast its SSID name by sending out a continuous radio ping. Windows XP. This is convenient for people trying to connect to it. Once your computer network cards have the network information that matches the router. 6. with confidence that your wireless network security is set up correctly. . Pay particular attention to the SSID. the type of encryption. Plus you won't have to choose to connect to "nonbroadcasting networks" on your computers. because they don¶t have to remember the name of the network. You¶ll need to know this info when are ready to connect any wireless PCs or laptops. and then type in the name of the network to connect to it. for sure. You have now successfully implemented wireless network security on your router that should keep your data relatively safe (see caveat above for more info). If you are having trouble "seeing" the wireless network. always tries to connect to the first broadcasted wireless network. If you have a laptop with a wireless card. which basically means the network card goes out and gets what it needs from the network automatically. If you turn off SSID broadcasting. Change the network card settings in each of your PCs to match the router settings. you may have to "turn on" your wireless network card.d. e. check to make sure the wifi capabilities are on. as long as the network card is set up to use DHCP. they will connect and you¶ll be able to connect to the internet. DON'T turn off SSID Broadcasting. It will look a bunch of colored bars. and the key you used when you set up the router. Wired computers will get the information they need automatically. NOTE: On some laptops. by default. but on Windows XP. It seems like it would be good to turn that off. it isn't a good idea. and connecting to the internet. 9. 7. Let's keep going to finish setting up our network. Windows XP won't connect to your network first if it finds a broadcasting network in close enough range. 8. So it's best to continue broadcasting while implementing WPA2 encryption instead.
Walk around your house with your laptop and see how good the signal is in each room. All done! You now know the best steps for setting up a wireless network and configuring strong wireless network security. Being able to work anywhere in your house depends on how big your house is. Very quickly. As you walk around.Green means the signal is strong. and red means no signal at all. and now you have the peace of mind that your wireless network security is keeping your computers safe. you¶ll see the signal strength icon in the Windows system tray changed. and where your wireless router is located. . It's makes working on your computer kind of fun. you¶ll find out the best places to be for full network speed. yellow is weaker. I hope this information helps you keep your computers and your data safe.
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