The First Step to Internet Security

by Silki Garg

Most of the broadband home users access Internet via a broadband router and many of them are Wifi enabled. Wifi ensures convenience of use and allows all the devices within ifi range to access Internet via the broadband router. This router is configured on a private IP Address, usually 192.168.1.1, which can be used in other network also. It is unlike other public IP Addresses, which can only be used by a single device within the whole Internet.

Being the gateway of your home network to the outside world, broadband routers are the first step for strengthening Internet security. Unfortunately many people overlook this ctritical step in their security plan. I have seen many people using latest security software suites, firewalls and all sorts of things, but leaving their Wifi networks open which can be accessed by anybody and everybody.

If you are one of them, then take action today and ensure the security of your broadband networks. Here are a few simple steps, which can go a long way to ensure the security of your broadband network.

1. Your Login Details: The first most important step is to change the username and password of the settings page of your router. Most of the manufacturers set a default username and password combination within the firmware of the router. Since it is common to all the routers, it is in the public domain and anybody can guess it. There are a few websites, which list the default router passwords of common devices. You can imagine how easy it can be for a hacker to get access to your network, if you do not change the default login details set on your router.

2. The SSID: SSID is a unique identifier for a wireless network. It is of vital importance as a wireless computer or other device sitting between a number of wireless access points (WAPs) can “see” and broadcast to all of them. The SSID is what the computer or device uses to identify the correct WAP. It also acts as a “passkey” for devices because the device will only accept the packets, which have its SSID contained within it.

There are two things you need to do with the SSID of your router. First you have to change it to something else than the default value. And tsecond you have to change the settings so as to hide the SSID. This will ensure that a casual passerby does not pick your SSID and latch onto your Wifi network without authorized access.

3. MAC Filtering: All the computeing devices like computers, laptops, PDAs, mobile phones etc. have a unique identifier, which is known as MAC Address. No two devices can have the same MAC address. Now most of the broadband routers allow MAC Filtering, which means that you can whitelist the MAC addresses of all those devices into the router settings. This will ensure that your router allows access to only these devices.

4. Update the Firmware: Many of the popular router manufacturers keep on updating the firmware of their popular models at regular interval so as to add mroe features and plug in the vulnerabilities. Make sure that you are running the latest firmware version on your router.

5. Data Encryption: Even after ensuring all the above-mentioned steps, there may be chances that somebody within the Wifi range can listen to the packets and can get access to the data, which is being transferred. To ensure that it is useless for him, make sure to employ encryption of data transmitted. There are many encryption algorithms available. You need to check, which algorithm is supported by your router as well as your devices.

Take these steps today, if you have not yet done so. Remember, your Internet security is well within your own hands.