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How can I make my wireless network more secure?

Security is an important part of a home wireless network. If you do not set up the security features, many routers allow anyone with a wireless-enabled computer or device to connect to your network and use your Internet access without you knowing. If those people's actions happen to be illegal, it is your account that comes under scrutiny.

Home Networking offered by Bright House Networks includes encryption and security features such as firewalls to help protect against unwanted access to your wireless network. Bright House Networks is not the designer of these features, but Bright House Networks installers may set up the router's or gateway's wireless security features for you if you are a home networking customer.

If you have your own router, you can enable these features yourself. If you do not know how, all manufacturers have easy-to-use information in their users' guides and on their websites to walk you through the steps to secure your router. If you still need help, Contact Us, and a Customer Care representative will help you find the information you need.

Use of these security features might not be sufficient to protect against viruses or unauthorized access by third parties to your computer and network, but you can take actions that at least discourage potential intruders:

  • Your network should have a unique name, or Service Set Identifier (SSID), rather than using the default name provided by the manufacturer. This makes it easier to distinguish from other wireless networks. If you have Bright House Networks Home Networking, your installer can set this up for you. For more information, see What does SSID mean?
  • Require a password. Passwords in the wireless world are called keys, passwords, passphrases, or another similar name. There are two main types of encryption: WEP (wired equivalent privacy) and WPA ( WiFi protected access) or WPA2.
    • WEP is an older encryption process and is not considered as secure as WPA or WPA2. WEP provides security by encrypting data over radio waves so that it is protected as it is transmitted from one point to another. It is possible for someone trying to eavesdrop on your network to intercept enough WEP-encrypted packets to eventually figure out what the key is. It uses a master passphrase that each computer is required to match before the router allows it to connect. If you use WEP encryption, it's safest if you use 128-bit WEP keys. For more information on WEP keys, see What is a WEP key?
    • WPA, a newer encryption method, is designed to be more secure than WEP, and WPA2 is considered the most secure form of wireless security. However, older equipment might not support those encryption methods, and in those cases, you must use WEP keys instead.

    The passphrase should be strong, and that usually means that longer passwords are stronger. For WEP encryption, use a combination of numbers (0 through 9) and letters (A through F) that could not be easily determined by people who have knowledge of you. The passphrases are case sensitive so using upper- and lowercase letters are recommended. Your passphrase should be 10 characters for 40/64-bit (used interchangably) encryption and 26 characters for 104/128-bit (used interchangably) encryption. The other characters that make up the key, or total bits, are randomly generated.

    WPA passphrases can be eight to 63 characters (A through Z for letters and 0 through 9 for numbers). Bright House Networks recommends that you do not use passphrases such as computer or only your first or last name because they could be guessed easily by hackers. There are commercial programs that can help you generate strong keys.

    Regardless of the method you choose, both the router and wireless computers on your network must be set to the same encryption method.

Did You Know?

  • If you are not sure whether your wireless network is secure, see How can I tell whether my wireless network is secure?
  • You also should use virus, spyware and malware protection software to help protect your computer against attacks. McAfee AntiVirus, which is included with your High Speed Internet service, is one such protection system, or you can purchase other security protection software from retailers.
  • There is no fail-safe method of securing your router and computer, but taking the actions suggested here makes your wireless network more difficult for a casual user to compromise.
  • If you have your own networking equipment and want more information on how to secure your network, the manual that came with your router usually includes these instructions. Instructions often are available on the router manufacturer's Web site, too. See I have my own networking equipment. How do I contact the manufacturer for customer support?
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Article Number: 7008

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