WEP and WPA Security Encryption
Virus protection and firewalls do not shield a network from intrusion. Although software and router based firewalls may protect individual computers from remote attack, anyone logged on to a network will have access to the same files and features as every other user. To shield the network from an unwanted breach, security measures at the router level must be deployed.
Understanding how to make a Wi-Fi network secure begins with exploring the imbedded router security procedures. The two primary methods of protecting a network are through Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) and Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA).
WEP is an older security protocol that utilizes a single encryption key. Constantly evolving hacker software and superior computer speeds have made WEP encryption relatively easy to unlock for the experienced cyber thief. Although more difficult to set up, WPA systems employ layered and constantly changing encryption algorithms that make the system far more difficult to decipher. WPA-2 is similar in structure to WPA but offers an even more aggressive encryption methodology.
WPA utilizes a pass phrase or security key anywhere from 8-63 characters. The router will offer instructions as to how to access the security screen set up. After creating the security key, it is important to write it down and store it in a secure location. After selecting the AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) option, every remote computer expecting to join the network must right click on the internet access icon in the taskbar and select the appropriate available network from the list. A dialogue box will ask for the network security key and when entered, access to the network should be granted.
If the router is older and the network speed is substantially reduced when using WPA, WEP encryption should be used as an as an alternative. WEP is less secure than WPA, but certainly preferable to an unsecured network.