A wireless network deployed without adequate encryption is similar to a house without front door with a welcome mat saying thieves are welcomed here at any time. The increasing popularity of Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) networks also led to a need for more reliable protection mechanism which prevents the hijacking of the Internet connection for authorized users of the wireless network. Unfortunately, majority of novice computer owners opt to forego of the process of encrypting the broadcasting of their wireless routers because of the perceived complexity associated with the procedure. This is a dangerous practice because it allows an unhampered access not only to the broadband connection but possibly to the resources of the network clients.
- Wireless router
- Internet connection
- Web browser
The process of encrypting the digital signals of the wireless router is not as complicated as it seems. To lock down the router broadcast, open the Web browser and type the IP address of the wireless router in the address page. Possible addresses are 192.168.1.1, 192.168.0.1, and 192.168.2.1 among others depending on the device’s manufacturer. Consult your router manual for verification.
Entering the correct address will bring up the Administrator login screen for the router. Unless previously modified, possible default usernames are admin, root, or simply a blank box. The possible passwords would be admin or just leaving it blank. The default username and password should be in the device documentation.
After successfully entering the correct username and password, the Web Administration Page will be displayed to the user. This is where the encryption of the broadcast will be done.
Click on the “Wireless” section of the router configuration page. Choose the section for the “Wireless Security” option.
Under the “Security Mode” option, click the dropdown list to select from the possible choices for encryption mode. Each router supports a different range of security methods. More common choices would be WPA (further divided into Personal and Pre-Shared key) and WEP.
After choosing the preferred security method, choose the “Wireless Encryption Level” which is normally 64- or 128-bits. The higher the number of bits, the more secured the encryption level is.
In the Passphrase field, type a reference text that you can remember. Click on the “Generate” button which will generate a corresponding key based on the Wireless Encryption Level. This code serves as the password for all wireless devices attempting to access the network.
Click on the “Save Changes” button to implement the new configuration. Test the broadcast encryption by attempting to connect your wireless device without specifying the network password. The connection should be denied.
Repeat the same connection process but this time, type in the generated network key. Click on the “Connect” button. The wireless device should be able to connect to the network. Select the option to save the network key to eliminate the need to type it in at every connection attempt.