Computers and many other devices, including smart phones and PDAs, can connect to the internet wirelessly using Wi-Fi. An unsecured Wi-Fi connection makes it easier for hackers to access your private files and information, and it allows strangers to use your internet connection.
These are general tips on changing your router and network settings. You may need to check the instructions for your wireless equipment for the technical details. If you need more guidance on checking or changing your settings, your Wi-Fi equipment supplier or internet provider will provide advice on their websites.
How do I check whether my network is secure?
Wi-Fi networks are accessed through a physical device called a router – also known as a hub. You will need to connect to your router to check its network settings. To do this, you will need the router’s IP address, user name and password. Open your browser and enter the router’s IP address into the address bar. When asked, enter your username and password. Your router settings will allow you to find out whether your connection is already secured and will let you choose a more secure password.
How do I secure my network?
The following tips will help you to use your Wi-Fi more securely and to protect your personal information.
Change the wireless network’s default name
A Service Set Identifier (SSID) is a unique ID used for naming wireless networks, and ensures the network name is different to other nearby networks. You should change the network name from the router’s default. This will make it harder for anyone to identify your browser and guess its default settings.
Encryption scrambles messages sent over wireless networks so that they cannot be read easily. If your network is not encrypted, enable encryption on your settings page. There are different forms of encryption, but we suggest that you use the Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA/WPA2) version because it is stronger than other versions such as Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP).
Choose a strong password
Change your password from a default supplied with the router. Make sure you use a password which is easy for you to remember but would be difficult for a stranger to guess, and preferably something with a combination of letters and numbers. Avoid using something obvious such as the name of your street.
Hide your network ID
A router broadcasts its SSID to anyone within range. You can alter the router settings to not broadcast the SSID and therefore avoid alerting hackers to the network’s existence.
Check that your device does not auto-connect to Wi-Fi signals
If your device is set to automatically connect to available Wi-Fi networks, then you run the risk of automatically connecting to unknown and potentially dangerous networks. You should switch off auto-connect on your device settings page – refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for more details.