written by: Aaron R.•edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 9/22/2011
The joys of wireless Internet are nearly endless. With a good router, you can take your work with you, both inside and outside of your home. If you want to browse safely, however, you'll need a bit of security.
slide 1 of 4
The Dangers of Unsecured WiFi
If your wireless Internet isn't secure, then you could be leaving yourself open to a number of problems. I've always found that it's best to cover the worst case scenarios first, before moving onto the solutions. Wandering eyes could eavesdrop on your browsing and potentially grab passwords or account access, or you could wind up with unwelcome outsiders jumping on to your personal router.
It's important to understand just how a hacker can gain access to your wireless network. There are some general tactics available that allow tech savvy individuals to gain illegal access to a network, but there are also a few tools that make hacking someone's WiFi as easy as pressing a few buttons. And once they have a hand in the wireless network, their choices really open up. There are a number of attacks that can be done on a home or business' network. And if you're assuming that a hacker can't do much real harm, then you haven't read the tale of Albert Gonzalez.
Now that you understand the risks, hopefully you're ready to put some good defenses into action. We'll take a look at a number of guides covering crucial topics, like wireless encryption and ways to help keep your WiFi from looking like a juicy target. While it is effectively impossible to make yourself immune, it's fairly easy to make things so difficult to attack that hackers will move on to greener pastures.
We'll also take a look at the encryption techniques that are currently available and their relative strength against attacks (and information on the ones that have been cracked already). We'll also take a look at some general tips and tricks that cover the many different ways that you can secure a wireless router against attack. If you're interested in learning about how filtering MAC addresses or hiding your SSID may (or may not) be worth your time, or if you just want to learn how to close a few vulnerable spots, look at the security information below.
Now that you know the basics of encryption and wireless security, it's a good idea to really set up your router. You're ready to do it right and stay safe. We have plenty of guides for setting up your very own wireless network. It may seem a little intimidating to do it yourself, but you should't be afraid. With our help, you'll be online in no time.
Below, you can find a few general guides to point you in the right direction. This will help you handle buying your own router and going through the general setup. After that, you can turn to our more specialized guides, which will help you prepare your brand of router, whether you get a Linksys, a Belkin or something from Netgear. Of course, things can go a bit wrong. If you're using a good encryption key and password, it's likely that you may lose your key at some point in the future. If that happens, our guides on recovering your WEP or WPA keys will come in handy.
You should be all ready to go now. Whether you just want to enjoy a bit of mobility, or get crucial wireless devices online, you are finished with the hard part. Once your spend an afternoon securing your network, you should be able to feel fairly safe against eavesdropping hackers or unwelcome guests. If you have any more tips or tricks for securing a wireless network, or have a question that we didn't answer, please feel free to leave a comment below. We'll address any lingering questions as quickly as possible.