Wireless technology is very convenient for users. Several personal computers can be easily connected to a network without the hassle of patching together bunches of cables that can really get quite messy. Unfortunately, wireless technology can also be very convenient for hackers and opportunists who would rather hitch a ride on other people's networks than pay for their own service subscription. There are tools that a user can take advantage of to secure his network. These are applications that come with the local area network (LAN) device and won't cost an extra cent.
1. Access the LAN device.
In a wireless home network the LAN device is a wireless router. The default settings on such a device are usually set to enable any PC with a wireless adapter that is within the coverage area to access it. Obviously these settings need to be changed, and in order to do that the device must first be accessed. Using an Ethernet cable, connect your PC to the router. Open your PC's browser and type in the LAN's IP address on the browser's address bar. This IP address can be usually found in the router's manual. When the browser successfully navigates to the said address/site, the first thing you'll encounter is a log-in page or window. Enter the default username and password, which can also be found in the manual. Once you're through, navigate to the security tab. There you'll find the settings that need to be modified.
2. Change the username and password.
This is commonly one of the first options in the security tab and one of the first steps you need to take to start securing your wireless network. Use a combination of letters and numbers and write them down on a piece of paper, or better yet, memorize them quickly. By changing the username and password you are securing your administrative privileges to the network, and no one else will be able to access the device.
3. Enable Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encryption.
Also under the security tab is the WEP encryption option. Since wireless networks transmit data through radio waves, encrypting the transmitted data can lower the risk of intrusion into the network.
4. Enable Media Access Control (MAC) ID filtering.
This is another option in the security tab. A MAC ID is the unique identification number of the wireless network adapter in a computer. You can configure the LAN device to accept only particular MAC IDs - those that belong to each of the computers in the network.
There really is no such thing as a final security solution. As new security software is developed, hackers simultaneously figure out new ways to break them. It is important for users then to have a basic knowledge of computer and network security tools, and to as much as possible update themselves on the latest types of threats and countermeasures.