How To Encrypt Your Wireless Network
Piggybacking is the practice of latching onto another person’s wireless network to access the Internet, without that person’s knowledge or permission. If you do not take steps to secure your wireless network, you are at risk of someone hacking it and having access to your personal data. Even without malicious intent, piggybacking can increase your Internet bill as you are paying for extra usage and slow your Internet speed due to it being shared.
Encryption is the process of scrambling information before it is sent over a network, so it becomes unreadable. In this article, we discuss the steps to be taken to encrypt your wireless network.
WiFi encryption standards
Understanding the various encryption standards is the first step in encrypting your wireless network:
WEP – Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) is the oldest standard for protection. WEP is not opted for anymore because it is easily penetrable by even an amateur hacker. It is possible that if your wireless network was set up a long time ago, it could be using WEP, which offers little protection.
Wireless networks or devices still configured to use WEP should be upgraded for stronger encryption.
WPA/ WPA2 – Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) solved the problems of WEP and was initially implemented as a temporary solution to WEP. WPA2 is currently the most secure encryption standard out there.
WPA2-Personal/ WPA2-PSK – WPA2-Personal and WPA2-PSK are encryption standards suited for homes and small networks. They use passphrases as security.
WPA2-Enterprise and WPA2-802.1X – These are encryption standards requires setting up a special authentication server, so it is usually for enterprises and larger networks.
How to encrypt your wireless network
Different routers have different procedures for encryption. However, here is an overview of the general steps to encrypt your wireless network:
Access your wireless router administration console by opening the browser and typing in your wireless router IP address. The IP address can be found on the router manufacturer’s website or in your wireless router’s manual.
When the administration console is loaded, it will display a login screen with a field for an admin name and password. Both can be located on the router manufacturer’s website. After entering both, the web administration page will be displayed.
Locate the wireless network settings page and then head to the wireless security section.
An option for Security Mode will be present in the wireless security section. The encryption standards earlier discussed such as WEP, WPA and WPA2 will show up under Security Mode. Change the setting to WPA2, WPA-Personal or WPA-PSK, as you wish.
If these options do not appear or the only option that appears is WEP, you have two courses of action:
1. Upgrade your router to add the capability. Contact your router manufacturer or visit their website for details.
2. If your router is too old, it may not be possible to upgrade it and springing for a new router that supports higher encryption standards is necessary.
You may also be prompted to select a wireless encryption level – either 64-bits or 128-bits. The higher the number of bits, the greater the security.
Make sure to use a strong wireless network SSID name and password. Save and apply the settings.
After encryption has been enabled on the router, you may need to configure your devices to ensure that they can access the network after the settings have been changed.
Not taking precautions to secure your wireless network is akin to leaving the front door of your home open. Encrypt your wireless network as per the highest standard possible so that you are secure from intruders.