If someone has a computer at their home, it is almost certain that they go online with it. Additionally, many people have multiple computers and devices that can connect to the Internet, which means that wireless networks have become increasingly popular. However, it is important that people maintain security on those wireless networks. Most people use their computer to check their email, correspond with their employer and manage their finances.
This means that sensitive and private information is being stored and transmitted on their computer and network, and the last thing anyone wants is for a dishonest individual to gain access to it. By simply getting an individual's email address and password, a hacker could find out enormous amounts of personal information about someone, including their social security number and bank account information. Clearly, network security is essential no matter who is going online, but how does someone ensure that their network is secure and keep it that way?
One of the first and most important steps to keeping a network secure is to set up some sort of encryption for it. The majority of people set up a network password that userss can enter into a device that will allow them access to the network and Internet. This is usually either a Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) key or a Wireless Protected Access (WPA) key. If someone does not have this password, they will not be able to connect to the network.
There are three main types of encryption for these passwords, WEP, WPA and WPA2. WEP is the weakest and WPA2 is the strongest, but older devices may only be able to connect using WEP or WPA. People should attempt to use WPA2 if possible because it is the hardest for malicious individuals to get past. Additionally, WEP only allows 10 character passwords that use the letters a through f and the numbers 0 through 9, which is one of the reasons that it not as secure as WPA and WPA2, which can use all alphanumeric characters and symbols and do not require a set length.
If someone already has a network set up or if they are setting up their network for the first time, these security settings can be accessed by logging into their router. People should connect a cord directly to their router to adjust these settings because if they are connected wirelessly, when the wireless settings change they will no longer be connected to the router. Most router manufacturers include an installation disk that will walk people through setting up their new network, and if someone cannot find the disk, manufacturers also often provide setup support on the Internet or over the phone.
In addition to ensuring that a network is password protected, people may also want to monitor who is connecting to their network. Routers will allow individuals to see what devices are connected to the router through wireless and physical connections and for how long. If someone keeps seeing a suspicious device pop up, they can change their network key to lock the device out.
For more advanced users, there are also network security monitoring programs available that operate in a manner similar to anti-virus programs. These software suites will scan networks to identify attacks and keep track of which devices connect and for how long. Many of these programs include special network firewalls that can help protect against denial of service and brute force attacks.