It is convenient to sit on the couch or bask in a bed in front of the wireless access point or router and be connected to the Internet. While taking advantage of this convenience, remember that your data is broadcast over the airwaves in all directions. If you can receive it from where you are, it’s the same for just about anyone else in the same range.
In order to protect your data from prying eyes or snookers, you need to encrypt or scramble it so that no one else can read it. Most of the latest wireless devices come with Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) and Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) or WPA2 (WPA2) encryption schemes that you can activate in your home.
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The WEP was the encryption scheme included with the first generation of wireless network equipment. It turned out that it contained serious flaws that make it relatively easy to hack or pierce, so it is not the best form of security for your wireless network. Nevertheless, it is always better than having no protection. So if you are using an old router that only supports WEP, enable it.
The WPA was subsequently deployed to provide much more powerful wireless data encryption than WEP. However, to use WPA, all devices on the network must be configured for the WPA. If any of the devices in the communication chain is configured for WEP, the WPA devices generally return to the lower encryption so that all the devices can still communicate.
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WPA2 is a newer and more robust form of sending encryption with current network routers. When you have a choice, select WPA2 encryption.
Tip to indicate if your network is encrypted
If you are not sure if you have enabled encryption on your home network router, open the Wi-Fi Settings section of your smartphone while at home and view nearby networks within range of the phone. Identify your network by name, this is almost certainly the one that the phone is currently using. If there is a padlock icon next to its name, it is protected by a form of encryption. If there is no padlock, this network does not have encryption.
You can use this same trick on any equipment that displays a list of neighboring networks. For example, computers Mac displays a list of neighboring networks when you click the Wi-Fi symbol at the top of the screen.
Different routers have different methods to enable encryption. Refer to the owner’s manual or website for your wireless router or access point to determine exactly how to enable and configure encryption for your device. However, in general, here are the steps you need to take:
- Log in as the wireless router administrator from your computer. Usually you open a browser window and type the address of your router. The current address is http://192.168.0.1, but check your manual or router manufacturer’s website to make sure.
- Find the Wireless Security or Wireless Network Settings page.
- Look at the encryption options available. Select WPA2 if taken in load, otherwise select WPA or WEP, in this order.
- Create a network password in the field provided for this purpose.
- Click Save or Reply and turn off the router and then power on again for the settings to take effect.
Once you have enabled encryption on your router or access point, you must configure your wireless network devices with the appropriate information to access the network.