Security DOs, DON`Ts and MYTHS for Home

Security DOs, DON`Ts and MYTHS for Home
Security Best Practices for Home Wireless Routers
Security Best Practices for Home Wireless Routers (APs)
; Turn off your wireless router (AP) when not in use.
This minimizes the risk of unauthorized users stealing and misusing your Internet connection.
; Use WPA or WPA2 security on your wireless router
Use WiFi Protected Access (WPA) or WPA2 to secure WiFi communication between your laptop and
home WiFi router. Select WPA-PSK or WPA2-PSK (also often termed as WPA-Personal and WPA2Personal). Use a strong passphrase that is at least eight characters long and is a mix of alphanumeric
and special characters.
; Restrict access to your wireless router
Use a strong password
Change the default password of your WiFi router with a stronger password (at least eight characters
and a mix of alphanumeric characters). This will prevent unauthorized users from logging into your
WiFi router and manipulating its settings.
Disable remote administration
Disabling remote administration ensures that no one can change the settings on your wireless
router from the Internet.
Disable administration from wireless
If your router supports this option, disable it. This ensures that the router’s internal settings are
accessible only if you are connected to it via an Ethernet cable.
; Turn on logging on your wireless router
Logging will record activities of your wireless router including WiFi activities of the clients that connect
to it. This record can serve as an audit trail in case of a security breach and can be useful for
: Do not use OPEN security
If you configure your router’s security setting to “Open” then wireless communication between your
computer and the wireless router is unencrypted. Anyone in the vicinity can sniff your data over the air
and steal confidential information such as passwords, credit card numbers, etc. Further, without any
authentication and encryption, your wireless router can accept connections from any other computer
leaving your network and Internet connection vulnerable to misuse.
Security Best Practices for Home Wireless Routers
: Do not use WEP security
Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) is an obsolete encryption technique that is flawed. WEP encryption
can be broken in minutes using free software available on the Internet. WEP does not provide real
security. Use WPA or WPA2 instead.
: Do not share passwords
Do not share either the administrator’s password or the wireless security key/passphrase with anyone.
ª MYTH: Disabling SSID broadcast hides your WiFi network from unauthorized users.
Disabling SSID broadcast does not hide your WiFi network. Your SSID can be discovered in minutes by
sniffing certain control WiFi packets over the air. Disabling SSID broadcast only gives a false sense of
ª MYTH: Using MAC address based access control list (also known as MAC filtering) prevents
unauthorized users from connecting your WiFi router.
Most wireless routers will allow you to specify which computers can connect to it based on the MAC
address of the wireless card in the computer. By sniffing the over-the-air packets, a hacker can discover
an authorized MAC address, then spoof the MAC address (using free software available on the
Internet) and bypass MAC filtering.
ª MYTH: Reduce the transmit power on your WiFi router or place it so as to reduce signal
spillage outside premises.
How far the signal from your WiFi router can be detected does not depend on the transmission power
alone. A hacker using a high gain antenna can detect and communicate with your WiFi router from far
distances. Reducing transmission power of your WiFi router could in fact cause coverage holes in parts
of your home.
ª MYTH: Turning off DHCP or using static IP addresses is a way to prevent unauthorized
Just like your SSID, a hacker can quickly determine valid IP address range for your network. Turning off
the DHCP server in your wireless router or using static IP addresses for your computers provide no
security benefit. If you have several machines using WiFi, then it will be cumbersome for you to
configure all your machines with appropriate IP addresses.
ª MYTH: Using cryptic SSID or changing SSID frequently adds to the security of your WiFi
SSID is simply the name of your WiFi network. Use an SSID that is simple to remember, but that does
not reveal private information about you such as your name, address, employer, occupation, etc. You
do not need to change your SSID frequently.
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