How to Restrict Access to Your Wireless Network in Windows 7

One major weakness of wireless networking is security. Your best move is to apply a good, solid network password. A better option is to restrict access to only those computers known to the wireless router or base station. That way, only computers you authorize can use the network, even when the network password is known.

How the technique works depends on the router. It may be called a wireless MAC filter, MAC address filter, network filter, or restricted MAC access. The idea is to supply the router with a list of MAC addresses. It works because every wireless NIC has a unique MAC address. The result is that only those PCs whose MAC addresses are known can access the wireless network.

After enabling MAC address filtering for your router, you need to enter the list of MAC addresses from the PCs that use that network.

In Windows 7, follow these steps to discover your PC’s wireless NIC’s MAC address:

  1. Open the Control Panel.

  2. From beneath the Network and Internet heading, choose View Network Status and Tasks.

    The Network and Sharing Center window appears.

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  3. Choose the link on the left side of the window: Change Adapter Settings.

    The Network Connections window appears. Every network connection, wired or wireless, appears as an icon in the window.

  4. Double-click to open the Wireless Network Connection icon.

  5. In the Wireless Network Connection Status dialog box, click the Details button.

    The MAC address, titled Physical Address, appears in the Property column.

  6. Close the various dialog boxes and windows.

After you know the MAC address for a computer (or other device), you can access the wireless router and input that MAC address into the list of authorized computers. Yes, doing it is a pain, but the benefit is that only those computers you authorize can use the network. Considering that you need to input the MAC address only once for each computer, the security trade-off is probably worth it.

  • Every NIC has a unique MAC address.

  • MAC stands for Media Access Control. It’s a Scottish thing.

  • The MAC address is a series of six values separated by hyphens. The values include the numbers 0 through 9 and letters A through F.

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