How to Secure Your Wireless Access Point - dummies

How to Secure Your Wireless Access Point

By Lawrence C. Miller

After connecting the wireless access point (WAP) for your home network to the Internet, it’s time to configure the wireless settings so your wireless network devices (such as your computer and printer) can connect to your wireless network.

These are the steps to secure a NETGEAR WGR614v7 wireless router. Your steps may be a little different depending on the wireless device you’re using.

1Under Setup on the left side of the window, click Wireless Settings.

The Wireless Settings window appears.

2Under Wireless Network, enter a name (also known as an SSID) for your home network.

Your SSID can be up to 32 characters in length and is case sensitive. For example, HOME1234 is not the same as Home1234 because they use different case (capitalization).

3Leave the Channel and Mode settings at their default values (most likely 11 and g and b, respectively).

If you are installing multiple access points in your home with overlapping coverage and you are experiencing interference or poor signal strength, you can change your channel settings to one of the other options. The actual channel value does not matter. You just need to select one that minimizes interference with other access points.

4Under Security Options, select one of the available settings. (For WEP, continue with Step 5. For all others, go to Step 8.)

You should choose the strongest security option available on your wireless access point — WPA-PSK [TKIP] + WPA2-PSK [AES] in this example.

5Under Security Encryption (WEP), set the Authentication Type to Automatic and the Encryption Strength to either 64bit or 128bit. (128bit is better.)

If you have network devices that fail to connect to your wireless network, you may need to set the Authentication Type to either Open System or Shared Key. This is sometimes necessary for older wireless cards or operating systems.

6Under Security Encryption (WEP) Key, you can enter a passphrase and click the Generate button to automatically configure the WEP keys.

If you chose 64bit encryption strength, four keys consisting of 10 hexadecimal digits (0-9, A-F) will be generated. If you chose 128bit encryption strength, one key consisting of 26 hexadecimal digits will be generated. Alternatively, you can manually enter a single hexadecimal key for WEP (10 hexadecimal digits for 64bit, 26 hexadecimal digits for 128bit).

7Click Apply.

You’re done. If configuring WEP seems overly complex, it is! Choose one of the other security options (such as WPA-PSK [TKIP] or WPA2-PSK [AES]). They’re exponentially more secure than WEP and exponentially easier to configure.

8If you decide to set up WPA-PSK [TKIP] or WPA2-PSK [AES] (or both), select the appropriate option under Security Options.

For more details on the differences between these security options, refer to the CD or instructions provided with your wireless access point.

9Enter a passphrase between 8 and 63 characters and click Apply.

That’s it! Just because something is difficult, it isn’t necessarily better. For example, configuring WEP is extremely complex, particularly compared to WPA or WPA2. WEP security is more of a misnomer, and is in no way comparable to the strength of WPA and WPA2.