As my fellow E-consultancy blogger Drama 2.0 discussed earlier this week, the theft of more than 40mn credit and debit card numbers was due to insecure wireless networks.

If you run a wireless network at home or in the office, the same sort of security breach could easily occur if you are not taking advantage of your wireless router's security features.

  • Don't use defaults. It is almost always a good idea to change default usernames and passwords and your wireless router is no exception. One of the first things you should do when setting up your wireless network is to change the default administrator username and password.

    Additionally, most routers have a default name, or SSID, for your wireless network (i.e. belkin54g). It's a good idea to change this for several reasons. First, if you don't change it, it will serve as a hint to intruders that you probably left the defaults in place everywhere. Second, once an intruder knows what model router you're using, it's not difficult to find the default username/password and to look for known exploits.

  • Use encryption. Every good router supports encryption and if you're not using it, your network's security is likely to be compromised. If you have newer equipment, use WPA or WPA2 encryption. WEP encryption is less secure.
  • Use MAC address filtering. Every network card, whether it's wireless or wired, has a unique Media Access Control address (MAC address). A good wireless router will allow you to specify that only certain MAC addresses be allowed to access the wireless network. This can help prevent unauthorized computers from accessing your network.

    Be sure to read your router's documentation to find out how to set up MAC address filtering. To find out how to determine the MAC address of your network cards, click here.

  • Use your firewall. Most good routers have some sort of firewall built in and it should be used in addition to a good software firewall that is installed on the devices accessing your wireless network.
  • Disable SSID broadcast. By default, most routers "broadcast" their existence to the world. This makes it easier for devices to detect their presence and connect automatically. But this broadcast also gives intruders a target. By making your network "invisible" and setting up devices that need to access it to connect manually when in range, you can make your network less of a target to less-savvy intruders.

By being proactive, you can significantly reduce the risk that your wireless network will be compromised.

If you find that setting up a secure wireless network is too challenging (sometimes it can be a real pain), I recommend hiring a qualified consultant to do it for you. It's a worthwhile investment.


Published 15 August, 2008 by Patrick Oak

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Comments (6)

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Dull. Another article about how we must secure our wifi.

Isn't there a different solution to this problem?

Sharing wifi is a "good" thing to do. Sharing things in general is good for society. We can all cut ourselves off from each other and look after ourselves. Or, we can help each other out and share stuff.

The internet was born to be free. If you're out and about and need to get online, it's useful to be able to join someones wireless network. I was in France last year and I could hardly get a connection anywhere. Hotels charged outrageous fees (e.g. 15 Euro per day) and the public all had WEP/WPA encryption on their home wireless networks. That sucks.

We need a solution whereby we can share our wireless networks while providing proper security to users.

about 10 years ago



Sounds like you were born in the sixties. If you REALLY think the internet should be free, why don't YOU pay for access time and allow everyone (freeloaders) to piggy back on you? Could it be possible that if you pay for a connection (bandwidth) people expect to get what they pay for? Join the majority of us and pay/provide for your own needs.

almost 10 years ago


Patrick Oak, Blogger at Econsultancy


Thanks for your comment but I think you are misguided in your understanding of network security.

Security is a must for anyone operating a wireless network for the following reasons:

1. Unsecured networks are vulnerable to intruders and that means anyone sending data over the network could have their data fall into the wrong hands.

2. In many places, people have bandwidth limits and some people even pay for usage so it's not feasible to let the public leach their bandwidth.

3. Public wireless networks leave the owner of the network potentially liable for any illegal activities that a random user engages in. I doubt that most operators of a home wireless network want to be sued or arrested because some illegal activity was traced back to them even though it was committed by some unknow person who accessed their wireless network.

Also you should recognize that security is a two-way street. If you're accessing the internet via unsecured wireless networks that are open to everyone, any data YOU send over that wireless network could be compromised. That means any time you access your email, web services, bank accounts, etc. you are putting all of YOUR personal information at risk for theft.

almost 10 years ago


Wireless Network Setup

Tips for network security is really helpful to all viewers. Thnaks for this post.

We have London's based company, can provide you fast, professional home installation for all your needs. We are providing you a variety of services like TV & Wall mount install, Home installation, Electrical installation.


over 9 years ago


commercial locksmiths, locksmith at locksmith

Thanks for the tips One must secure the network before accessing wireless internet. WPA2 is one of the most secure ways of securing your network.

over 8 years ago


Phoenix Locksmith

There was a recent new report were someone riding on an open internet connection was downloading child pornography. They arrested the man that had the internet connection that was being used. He was eventually cleared and the correct man, a neighbor was arrested. This highlights the need for always encrypt your networks. You never know who will be using your access.

over 7 years ago

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