DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

June 21, 2011

Open to the World, Part 2

Last week we started looking at securing your home network.  Today we will finish our walk-through.  There are other settings for your router I have not mentioned but with instructions in hand you can experiment.  Just be very careful and (maybe) check with a geek friend first.

In review:

  1. Open your browser and go to either http://192.168.0.1 or http://192.168.1.1.
  2. Enter your router’s username and password.
  3. Change your password to something difficult.
  4. Rename your network/SSID.
  5. Encrypt your network to WPA-PSK or WPA2.

Let’s pick up where we left off.  Do not use the old settings of WEP or WPA since they can be cracked in minutes by hackers.  If your router doesn’t have the WPA-PSK or WPA2 try to upgrade your router’s firmware (there should be a menu item for that) or buy a new one.  I would recommend a purchase because you can get good and more modern ones for less than $50.

Finally, set a difficult password from eight to 63 characters. Make it tough by using upper-case characters, lower-case characters, numbers and/or symbols.  Do not forget it since you will need it sometime in the future, like when you get a new computer.  Check my past columns on creating good passwords for help with this.

All you have left to do is to save the settings and close your browser.  This will most likely kick you off of your network so you will need to reconfigure your computer with the new router info.

Reconfiguring your router is easy to do in Windows 7.  Look for the wireless icon in the lower right area of your taskbar.  This is the notification area.  Right-click the icon and select Connect to a Network.  You will see your network name (SSID) which you previously set up.  It should appear in a list of available networks. You may even see your neighbors’ networks, but come on, be nice.  Select your network from the list.  Choose the connect link, enter your password and in a few seconds you should be online.

With a Vista machine, use START then Connect To. Now choose your network name (SSID) and click Connect.  Proceed as above.

XP is the last one we will look at since it is a little more difficult.  Go to Start again, then to  Control Panel and double-click Network Connections. Right-click the Wireless Network Connection icon and select Properties.  Now go to the Wireless Networks tab.  Look for your SSID in the Preferred networks.  Click it and choose Properties.  Now, find the Network Authentication setting and select WPA-PSK or WPA2.  Under Data Encryption, select AES. The Network Key is the password you set for your network, so enter it here. Make sure the option This Key Is Provided For Me Automatically is not checked. Then click OK.

Your computer should reconnect to the network. This process will have to be repeated for every wireless computer—the good news is that you should only have to do it once.

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