Wireless at Home: Got Secure Wireless at Home? (Hypertext Student Newsletter)

By day, you surf the secure UC Davis wireless network, content to know intruders are kept at bay. But by night you return to your home wireless network, which may not enjoy the same level of security as the campus'.

In an age where anyone can become a hacker by downloading programs online, it is advised that users secure their personal wireless networks

from attackers. The following list offers some suggestions to help secure both your computer and wireless network, although availability of security options and methods of implementing them vary from router to router.

For router-side security???
  • Become familiar with your router??'s interface and utilize customer support to learn about advanced security options.
  • Secure your network with a complex password. Choose from a variety of numbers, letters, symbols, and non-dictionary words.
  • Do not broadcast your network??'s SSID, or codename. By default, any computer within range of your network can view its name on a list. If you choose not to broadcast the SSID, whoever wishes to access your network must manually enter its name. This should help keep rogue surfers away!
  • Implement a MAC (Media Access Control) address filter. Every wireless-capable computer has a unique MAC address (which is unrelated to Macintosh computers); by restricting access to certain MAC addresses, you are implementing a very secure type of filtration.
  • If your router allows you to encrypt data transferred across your network, be sure to activate this function.
  • Scale back network transmission distance. If possible, limit the distance the network covers to the size of your apartment.
To secure your home computer???
  • Use a software firewall. Firewalls included in your operating system (such as the Windows XP Service Pack II firewall) are sufficient to protect your computer. If you do not have a software firewall, the campus recommends ZoneAlarm by Zone Labs and Norton Personal Firewall by Symantec.
  • By default, all laptops have wireless always active and will connect you to the closest open wireless network. While you may not be utilizing this connection, your computer is online and generating an IP address. Hackers search for IP addresses when looking for computers to victimize, so be sure to turn off your wireless when you??'re not using it.