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Secure Your Router

A recent incident, in which a man was accused of distributing child pornography and he spent 3 days in jail before he was proven innocent (link to article) stresses the importance of securing your router (the device which connects you to the Internet).

Most of you will have some type of “Big Box” store router, or a router that has been provided to you from your ISP (Internet Service Provider). All of these devices come with a default username and password. Below is a list of the some of the more popular models with default usernames and passwords:

Router IP Address Username Password
3Com http://192.168.1.1 admin admin
D-Link http://192.168.0.1 admin admin
Linksys http://192.168.1.1 admin admin
Netgear http://192.168.0.1 admin password

The first step in protecting yourself is to create a new strong password for your router.  Some routers will have multiple accounts that will need to changed.  Check your user manual or manufacture website.  If you fail to assign a username and strong password (look for a follow-up blog post on strong passwords and how to create them in the next few days), you are leaving your device accessible to anyone who wants to access it. (This was the case in the incident mentioned earlier.)  Intruders could change your settings, or worse, lock you out of your own equipment.

Once you have password protected your router, you can then focus on restricting access to your device and WiFi network.

Below is a basic how-to (please refer to the documentation provided with your router for instructions for your device):

The first thing you need to do is access your router’s configuration setup, and turn on wireless connectivity, if not already enabled.

Secondly, you need to turn on encryption. When your data is encrypted over the wireless network, only devices with the access can see this data. You will need to choose a security mode in your routers wireless configuration settings. In most cases, you will be selecting WPA2 Personal, and choosing AES as the Encryption Algorithm. If you have older equipment, AES TKIP may need to be used instead.  Once you have selected your encryption method you will need to enter a password.  This password will be the password needed to access your WiFi network.  Use a strong password.  Please do not use WEP, as this encryption method is no longer secure. If you are unsure which encryption method to use, or you are unable to connect your devices, please contact your IT Professional.

You can earn further secure access to your network by only allowing authorized devices, with the correct password, to connect to your network. To implement this, you will need to add the MAC address of each device (including MP3 players, phones etc) you wish to have access your network into the settings your router. A MAC address is the unique identifier of any device capable of WiFi connectivity.  Please refer to your device manual or Google for specific instructions for locating the MAC address of your devices. Using MAC addresses can restrict access to your network, but it can be time-consuming to add or change the router configuration for each device.

Remember it is your responsibility to ensure your network is secure. This not only protects you from other people using you bandwidth, but it also protects your from unauthorized access to your data. If you are unsure of any of these steps, please contact your IT Pro for assistance.

Categories: Small Business IT

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