With over 50% of people admitting to having used someone else's wireless internet without permission, how can you stop your neighbours from stealing your Wi-Fi connection? Securing your wireless network is just a matter of following a few simple tips:
- Use encryption
Wireless routers give you the option of encrypting your data, so bank details and passwords can't be intercepted. Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA and WPA2) is a much stronger encryption system for securing your communications than WEP, which can be easily cracked by hackers.
- Use a password
Set up a password for your wireless internet connection. Choose a strong password for securing your network - don't use the one that came with your Wi-Fi router or a dictionary word that is easy to guess or crack. (You may wish to read our article on sensible password use for help with this.)
- Don't broadcast the name of your wireless network
The name of your wireless network, known as the SSID, should not be broadcast to passers by. In addition, choose an obscure hard-to-guess SSID name to make life harder for Wi-Fi hackers. SSIDs such as 'home', 'wireless' or 'internet' are not good choices.
- Use MAC address filtering
Wi-Fi routers and access points normally have the ability to prevent unknown wireless devices from connecting to the network. This works by comparing the MAC address of the device trying to connect to the Wi-Fi router with a list held by the router. Unfortunately, this feature is normally turned off when the router is shipped because it requires some effort to set up properly. By enabling this feature, and only telling the router the MAC address of wireless devices in your household, you'll be securing your wireless network against neighbors stealing your internet connection.
Securing your wireless network using MAC address filtering is not a total solution as it is possible for a determined hacker to clone MAC addresses and connect to your Wi-Fi network, but this measure should still be taken to reduce the risks.
- Restrict internet access to certain hours
Some wireless routers allow you to restrict internet access to certain times of the day. For instance, if you know you will not need to access the internet from home between 9-5, Monday to Friday, then schedule your router to disable access between those hours.
- Make sure your computers are properly secured
Check you have up-to-date anti-virus, security patches, and client firewall software, this will help to protect your wireless network by stopping malware-based connection to your Wi-Fi.