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.
- Networks without an active security protocol are identified by network name (SSID) only, or by indicating Unsecured or No authentication. For more information, see What does SSID mean?
- Networks with an active security protocol indicate the type of encryption next to the SSID, or by an icon such as a small lock.
Home Networking includes encryption and security features to help protect against unwanted access to your wireless network. If you are a Home Networking customer, installers may set up wireless security features for you. If you have your own networking equipment, you can enable these features yourself. There are a few different wireless encryption protocols, including:
WPA/WPA2 Encryption (Recommended):
- WPA is a stronger form of encryption than WEP; WPA2 is considered an even more secure form of wireless security.
- WPA keys accept all types of characters, not just hexadecimal, which allows for a fully customizable key.
- WPA keys are scrambled through a specialized authentication protocol called TKIP (Temporal Key Integrity Protocol).
- Note that some older equipment may not support WPA/WPA2 encryption, and you may need to use WEP encryption instead.
- WEP uses static 64-bit or 128-bit encryption keys, which can protect every device on the network.
- The encryption limitations posed by WEP make it more vulnerable to unwanted intrusion.
- For more information on WEP keys, see What is a WEP key?
- WPS automatically assigns an SSID and WPA encryption key for devices to connect to the network.
- Often uses a "push button" system that makes encryption easier for customers.
- May not be available on all Internet equipment.
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 should use virus, spyware, and malware protection software to help protect your computer against attacks. McAfee security software is included with your Internet service. You can also purchase security protection software from other 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, contact its manufacturer for support securing your network.
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