Why You Should Password Protect Your Wireless Network

I see examples all the time of people either wanting to know how to hack their neighbors wireless network (I’m also asked how to do this), or like the screen shot below shows almost bragging about using a wireless network that belongs to their neighbors. This example leads me to believe people are buying wireless routers and plugging in the devices to their DSL or cable modems and not changing any of the factory default settings on the router. While plugging in a wireless router is the quickest way to get the wireless network up and running, out of the box most home or small office wireless routers have no security set up.

Yahoo! Answers Example of Person Accessing Neighbors Wi-Fi

One essential security setting to configure on the router is a WPA or WPA2 passphrase. The WPA passphrase will then be entered on the wireless devices accessing the wireless network thus controlling what devices can connect. Not only will the WPA passphrase control what devices can join the network, but it will also be used to encrypt the communications of the network.

Some helpful tips:

  • If you’re unfamiliar with your wireless router consult the user’s manual for how to get access to the management interface and how to configure the security settings. If you do not have the manual most manufacturers have them available for download from their web sites.
  • DON’T USE WEP! WEP encryption has known flaws and can be cracked very easily.
  • Visit my earlier blog post for tips on selecting a strong WPA2 passphrase.

Leave me a comment or question if you need some help setting up WPA encryption on your specific router. I will definitely post a replay or offer a link to assist with your question.