HOW  TO  SECURE  A  WIRELESS  NETWORK

When you order Broadband from an Internet Service Provider, such as TalkTalk, they normally send you a parcel containing a Broadband Installation CD and a Wireless Modem/Router (i.e. the Huawei Echolife HG520b wireless modem/router). A series of letters will also have been sent to you that combine to make up your broadband User Name and Password. After opening the parcel and installing the Broadband Installation CD together with the Wireless Modem/Router you are ready to search the internet, download music, check your email and so on. All is well....or is it?


When you install a Wireless Modem/Router you must make sure that either the router has, by default (normal settings), disabled your Wireless Network (disabled the beaming of your Network Information through the air waves) or has at least enabled your Wireless Network with a Network Key (Security Password). If you have your Wireless Network enabled without a Network Key other computers will be able to share your Wireless Network and use your Broadband Internet Connection.

Basically. Any data (i.e. web page data, file data and so on) they send/receive through your wireless network uses your broadband internet connection to do so. Therefore not only are they using your broadband internet connection to view web pages on their computer, coming through your wireless network, but they are also robbing your broadband bandwidth (i.e. monthly download usage) and your broadband speed. If you and they are using your 2 MegaBytes broadband internet connection at the same time you get a speed of 1 MegaByte each because you are both sharing the 2 MegaBytes.

To enable a disabled wireless network or to change the network key (security password) for an enabled wireless network you must log-on to its router's web page, otherwise known as its Control Panel. This is done by typing the router's IP Address into internet explorer's Address Bar edit box (Fig 1.0) and then typing its User Name ad Password into the Windows Security security requester that appears (Fig 1.1). The router's IP Address, User Name and Password should be in the documentation (.pdf manual) file that comes on the Broadband Installation CD.

The default (standard manufacturer's) ip address for the Huawei Echolife HG520b control panel is 192.168.1.1, with a user name of admin and a password of admin or password. Most companies use 192.168.0.1, 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.2.1 as their ip address, with admin or administrator as their user name and password, admin or blank (empty/no password) as their password. So if you are stuck, try one of those combinations. Furthermore. Click Here for a list of default passwords associated with common router control panels.



Fig 1.0  Type your router's IP Address into internet explorer's Address Bar edit box and then press ENTER or click on the GO button




Fig 1.1  Type your router's User Name and Password into the appropriate edit boxes and then click on the OK button to continue

After logging-in to your router's Control Panel (web page) look for a heading called SETUP or BASIC (Fig 1.2 below), normally located in the top-left corner of the control panel. Underneath that heading should be a sub-heading called WIRELESS SETTINGS or WIRELESS LAN. Click on it to take go to the Wireless Lan (Local Area Network), or Wireless Settings, settings page (Fig 1.3).



Fig 1.2  Click on the WIRELESS LAN sub-heading to go to the Wireless Lan, or Wireless Settings, settings page.




Fig 1.3  The Wireless Lan (Local Area Network) settings page

When the Wireless Lan, or Wireless Settings, settings page is displayed there are normally security options on that page. If not, you will have to find them.....under a heading called SECURITY OPTIONS for example and/or under separate pages - Router control panels vary from each manufacturer, so it is difficult for me to be router specific here! The major security options you need to locate are DISABLE / ENABLE Access Point, WEP and WPA-PSK options amongst others, DISABLE / ENABLE Network Key (a blank/empty network key can mean the same thing) and the Network Key itself.

ENABLE  /  DISABLE  WIRELESS  NETWORK

In the above example the Access Point (Wireless Network) is ENABLED. If you want to disable a wireless network, in general, first look for a WIRELESS ACCESS POINT or ACCESS POINT option. Once found, it should have a clickable DISABLE and/or ENABLE tick option or radio (circle) button next to it.



Fig 1.4  Click on the ENABLE button, if need be, to enable the Access Point (Wireless Network)

Clicking on the ENABLE or DISABLE button should not enable or disable the wireless network (access point) straight away because you normally have to click on a SUBMIT or OK button at the bottom of the settings page before the action can be carried out. This usually applies to other options as well.

CHANGE  WIRELESS  NETWORK  NAME

The above Access Point (Wireless Network) was using the Wireless Network Name, also known as the SSID (Service Set IDentifier), of TalkTalk9j866 but I have just changed it to Yoingco by typing Yoingco into the SSID edit box. This will not make the wireless network more secure but it will distinguish it from other wireless networks. This is the wireless network (wireless network name) that devices/computers with wireless capabilities can see and therefore connect to, if they know its network key (security password) of course.



Fig 1.5  Change your Wireless Network Name, if need be, and make sure it is being broadcast

The only real reason for changing your wireless network name (ssid) is to distinguish your wireless network from other, similar, wireless networks (i.e. NetGear, NetGear1 or TalkTalk9j866, TalkTalk9i877). You can have wireless networks using the same wireless network name simply because they are using different routers.....just the same as different computers can have the same user name and/or computer name.

Regardless if you change a wireless network's name or not, make sure it is being broadcast so that other devices/computers can see it. This normally means ticking a YES option or clicking on a YES radio (circle) button (as above) next to an option called BROADCAST SSID for example. If the wireless network name is not being broadcast your computer, and other devices/computers, may have difficulty connecting to it even if the wireless network name and network key are known.

CHANGE  WIRELESS  NETWORK  CHANNEL

If you are getting interference from one or more other wireless networks in your area, or from a satellite dish for example, you might want to change the channel your router broadcasts on. The option for this is normally called CHANNEL or CHANNEL ID and comes in the form of an edit box or drop-down menu.



Fig 1.6  Click on the CHANNEL drop-down menu and then select a different channel for your router to broadcast on

Routers these days come with 13 Channels but in some cases their frequencies are so close together that there is no noticeable difference when using, or switching between, channels 7 and 8 for example. Therefore I would recommend stepping/gapping through the channels first - Try channels 9, 5 and 1 in turn for example so that the frequency gap between them should make a difference.

CHANGE  WIRELESS  NETWORK  ENCRYPTION

There are two basic types of encryption (data security) for routers and their broadcasting of data, and they are WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) and WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access). To cut the technicals! just note that you should, ideally, being using the WPA-PSK option with the TKIP security protocol/algorithm. PSK stands for Pre-Shared Key. These options are meant for Home and Small Office wireless networks. The AES security protocol/algorithm is more secure (has better encryption) than TKIP but is meant for big business organizations. And the same applies to WPA2-PSK, which is more secure than WPA.


After selecting WPA-PSK, which should default to using the TKIP security protocol/algorithm, you can then type a new Network Key (Security Password) inside the PRE-SHARED KEY (or NETWORK KEY) edit box, if it is empty or needs changing of course. If it is not empty, perhaps because the router is using a default (standard) network key or because someone has put one there for you already, either keep it (if you still know what it is) or over-write it with a new network key. Regardless if you use a new network key or keep the existing one, write it down on a piece of paper for safe keeping and then click on the APPLY, SAVE or SUBMIT (or whatever its called!) button to save/activate your new network key (below). This will now secure your wireless network from outside intruders.



Fig 1.7  Typical wireless network settings for the Huawei Echolife HG520b wireless modem/router

In the above example I chose to mix the network key with Numbers and Words, which you cannot see because of the black dots, in order to make it more difficult for a human and a computer to guess/hack. I did not put my Birthdate, Mother's Name and so on as they might be easy for a human or a computer to guess/hack. Instead I chose something I consider unique but easy to remember. In general a good example would be to use something like: 24plus3equals27 for example.

CHANGE  WIRELESS  ROUTER  PASSWORD

With the outside intruders taken care of you must then take care of the inside intruders. Meaning. Anyone who has a connection to your unsecure, or secure, network can gain access to your router's control panel using its default User Name and Password. Therefore they might be able to change your Network Key and other settings remotely, depending on how weak your router's control panel is. So the next step is to find a heading called MAINTENANCE, TOOLS or something along those lines and then look for a sub-heading called SET PASSWORD or SYSTEM MANAGEMENT for example. Once found, you should then be able to change the router's control panel password.



Fig 1.8  Click on the Pencil icon, give the router a NEW Password and then click on the SUBMIT button

The PASSWORD page normally asks for the Old Password, as well as the New Password (which needs reconfirming), so that when you click on the APPLY, SAVE or SUBMIT button (or whatever) the old password can be validated. If the old password is not valid the new password will not be allowed. The old password is the password you logged-in with to get to your control panel in the first place, which makes you wonder why the old password is needed!....and if an intruder successfully logged-in to the control panel with the correct, old, password how could they get caught out by not knowing it when faced with the password page??!!!!

BACKUP  WIRELESS  ROUTER  SETTINGS

To backup your router's current settings look for a sub-heading called BACKUP SETTINGS or SYSTEM MANAGEMENT under the heading MAINTENANCE or TOOLS for example. Ideally you should backup your router's settings, from scratch, before changing any settings whatsoever. That way you will have the manufacturer's settings backed-up (saved). Then if anything goes wrong in the future you can reload (open) the saved, manufacturer's, settings.



Fig 1.9  Click on the BACKUP button to save your router's current settings




Fig 1.10  Click on the SAVE button to continue




Fig 1.11  Click on the SAVE button to actually save the BACKUP File, called rom-0 in this example.

As you can see, the save process is more or less the same as saving a standard file using the SAVE AS File Requester. In the above example I navigated the SAVE AS file requester to my DOWNLOADS folder and then saved the backup file with its default file name of rom-0, even though I could of saved it as Router_Backup_Settings for example.

SAME  WIRELESS  ROUTER  -  DIFFERENT  BROADBAND  COMPANY

If you want to use your router with another ISP (i.e. BT instead of TalkTalk) begin by changing the broadband user name (login name) and password of the old ISP (i.e. TalkTalk) for the broadband user name (login name) and password of the new ISP (i.e. BT). This may be all you need to do to get your new isp's wireless network (broadband settings) working with this router. On the other hand, you may need to change one or more of the above settings before all is well. Either way. Do not think a modem/router is made just for one isp, just because they supplied you with the modem/router. The modem/router should, in theory, work with any isp's router settings and wireless network.



Fig 1.12  Change the USER NAME and PASSWORD details if you want to use your router with a different ISP (Broadband Company)

The above examples used a Huawei Echolife HG520b wireless modem/router. If you are using a different branded wireless modem/router (i.e. NETGEAR DG834G) or a different branded Huawei Echolife wireless modem/router its control panel settings should still be roughly the same as those described above bar the odd difference in setting names and headings. In other words. You should be able to secure your wireless network as described above, bar those odd differences.

If you are a member of TalkTalk you may find these pages useful: Configure A TalkTalk Supplied Router To Connect Wirelessly and Settings To Connect Your Own Router To Talktalk Broadband. TalkTalk also have this Members Forum.