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Friday, February 17, 2012

Four Ways to Protect Your Home Computer Network

A home network is no longer the high tech curiosity that it was when wireless routers first appeared. Today, the average American family has its own wireless network. These networks make our life extremely convenient, but that convenience comes at a cost. Remember when you were a kid, sleeping over at your friends, and you’d get scolded for sneaking snacks out of the pantry? These days it’s the neighbor boy sucking up your bandwidth (or worse) that you have to watch out for. 

Here are the top four ways to protect your home network from an outside invasion, whether they’re after your bandwidth or your checking account number.

1. Change the default name and passwords on your router’s administrator settings.

This is different than the password for encryption (see below). This is a step many people forget, and not doing so could allow a hacker to gain unrestricted access to your router and essentially all computers on your network.

A simplified illustration of a home networkImage via Wikipedia

2. Always enable network encryption on your wireless security settings. 

It seems silly to even mention this, but there are still people who don’t understand that leaving their networks open is just asking for trouble. Security settings encrypt your data and block bandwidth thieves from taking a free ride on your network. In the olden days, WEP encryption was the industry standard. These days, WEP is easier to crack than a Reidel wine glass. Always set your network to WPA encryption or higher.  

3. Disable the SSID broadcast on your router. 

By doing this, you are essentially making your broadcast signal disappear. A passerby or neighbor scanning for available wireless networks on their cell phone or laptop will not see your router on the list of available networks. You can configure your own computers and devices to automatically connect to your router even if it doesn’t show up on a SSID scan.

Connections on an ADSL Modem Router (From Left...Image via Wikipedia

4. Regularly monitor on your network to check that there are no unwanted guests. 

Most routers come with software that provides these monitoring tools. Be sure to install and use them.
As the speed and sheer amount of digital information on the Internet increases at an exponential rate, more and more activities that were once traditionally performed in the real world are now taking place in virtual space. It’s can be hard to remember general safety rules, but if you follow these steps and stay vigilant, you’ll have done much to protect your home computer network. 

Technology happens to be one of John's favorite things to write about. If you'd like to find out more about Home Network, please visit  http://www.netgear.com/(enter categories) happens to be one of John's favorite things to write about. If you'd like to find out more about (category), please visit website.com

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