What do I need to to secure my home WiFi network?

I’ve got 4 PCs attached to a wireless Linksys router + switch. One of the PC’s is wireless and runs ME. The other direct wired PCs are 2 Win XP units and and Win ME unit. All attach to the router whsih is hooked toa cable modem. What do I need to do to secure my network from being invaded by someone cruising with a WiFi notebook PC along the street in the neighborhood? The router has a built in firewall. All the router security setup options are at factory default settings.

The real quick answer: CHANGE THE DEFAULTS!

Have a look here for some info: http://www.linksys.com/edu/page10.asp

The basic steps:

  • Change the SSID - Name it after your pet, favorite Chinese food, whatever.
  • Disable SSID broadcast - this way, only people that know the SSID can access it.
  • Change the router password so anyone that manages to access the router can’t mess with the settings.
  • Enable WEP or WPA (depends on your router) - WEP is Wired Equivalency Protocol, and WPA is the newer Wi-Fi Protected Access.
  • Enable MAC filtering - only “known” network adapters can access the network.

Ars Technica has an excellent article on wireless security which should help.

Our network IT guy came over to my place to get my computer set up so I can telecommute, when I need to (I’ve got a cable modem on a wireless network for my laptop).

He commented that he often drives with his computer running, just looking for broadcasting networks (gotpassword’s 2nd item). There were three on my street, and two of them reached inside my apartment.

We didn’t try to connect to them, mind you, just saw that those people had their computers constantly calling out to anyone who was listening…