Essential Tips on Securing Your Wireless Network

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Wi-Fi, thanks to its easy setup and widespread use, has made itself popular in many households. The wireless technology connects multiple devices, including computers, phones, and tablets, thus making it easier for them to ‘communicate’ with each other. So, for example, you want to control your living room computer whilst sitting comfortably in your bedroom, thanks to Wi-Fi, you can do that simply by installing a few remote control apps on your smartphone. Moreover, you can snap a picture of yourself, send it to your laptop, and then send it to your printer for a nice printed pic. The possibilities are endless; however, they’re not without risks.

These days, more and more wireless networks fall prey to intrusions, hacking, and unauthorized usage due to the user’s failure to adopt necessary security measures.

Here at TechSource, we've compiled a nice list of all the essential steps you must take in order to secure your wireless network.

Make sure your Wi-Fi network is encrypted

This is the first and the most important of tips. Never, and I repeat never keep your Wi-Fi network open. In your router’s wireless settings section, you’ll find a bunch of options that will help you encrypt your network. Here’s some information about the different protocols you’ll need to choose from in order to keep the intruders at bay:

WEP: Wireless Equivalent Privacy, or WEP is a security algorithm that was introduced by IEEE in 1999. Recognizable by the key of 10 or 26 hexadecimal digits, WEP has, since its introduction, been criticized for its flaws. Consequently, another security algorithm known as WPA was introduced, thus making WEP obsolete. Despite its widely publicized fallacies, WEP is still widely used, thus exposing the network to unwanted attacks. If you’re setting up a new network, it’s strongly recommended that you stay away from WEP and go with WPA2 instead. Furthermore, if you’re using WEP, be it your office or home network, it’s important that you switch to WPA2 as soon as possible.

WPA: Wi-Fi Protected Access or WPA is a security protocol designed to address the security fallacies in the aforementioned WEP protocol. Introduced in 1999, WPA wasn't completely adopted until early 2000s, since many routers faced compatibility issues whilst upgrading. WPA did, to an extent, address the many issues WEP faced; however, WPA too had a few vulnerabilities of its own. Soon, in 2004, IEEE introduced WPA2, which has, since then, become the most secure protocol of the lot. Since 2006, WPA2 has been made mandatory for all new devices, thus there’s very little chance that you won’t have the protocol in your newly purchased router. So, in short, if you’re creating a new wireless network, simply go for WPA2, as it is the strongest of the bunch.

Use a creative wireless network name

If you’re surrounded by basement-dwelling hackers and perpetual snoops, here’s a nifty little tip that will help keep them away from your network. Simply name your network’s SSID something like <> STATE POLICE, <> OFFICIAL MILITARY NETWORK, FBI Protected Access, Skynet, the list is endless. Just use your creativity and it might help you ward off those hackers for good.

Use a Firewall

Using a firewall is like having security guard at your door that keeps a watchful eye on everyone who goes in and out. By allowing only legitimate connections to pass through and blocking unwanted connections based on a certain set of rules, the firewall secures the network from a variety of threats that lurk around on the Internet. Nowadays, routers come with firewall built-in; however for those that don’t have any, setting up an extra firewall is not that hard.

You can install firewall on individual Ubuntu or Linux Mint machines by typing in this simple command in the terminal (Ctrl + Alt + T):

sudo apt-get install gufw

For more info on how to use firewall on Ubuntu, read the manual.

Windows, on the other hand, comes with a built-in firewall that’s actually quite effective in keeping away the baddies. If you find installing firewalls on individual computers a tad tedious, you can convert an old PC into a firewall by using a firewall distribution.

Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

1 comment

  1. I don't understand how the naming is supposed ward off hackers?

    I'm honestly surprised not to see a couple of tips, hiding SSID and white-listing MAC addresses.

    Or are these not really valid methods for securing a wireless network?