Beware of Wireless Routers

by : Brian Renner

Wireless routers are great, they reduce clutter, allow you to easily use laptops or PDAs around the house, and save money on wiring and wiring installation.

However, when the big router companies had the decision of whether to make Wireless Routers easy to install or secure, the chose easy to install.

What does this mean?

This means that rather than having you go through a lengthy process of encrypting your signal and preventing outside users from taking your internet connection, the big wireless companies (Microsoft, Intel, Linksys, D-Link, and Netgear) wanted to make installation a snap! Did you ever notice how easy it was to get up and running with a wireless router right out of the box? Once you power up the router and connect your DSL line or Cable Modem, that signal is being broadcasted in every direction up to an average of 300 feet. That means your next door neighbor can easily pick up on your signal and surf the web for free!

Even worse, this means that if someone using your connection is doing something illegal, whoever traces that activity ends up knocking on your door since the internet connection is in your house!

Protect yourself by doing 2 things:

1. Encrypt Your Connection

This will vary between router manufacturers and models, but if you refer to your manual then it will explain it in detail. You'll basically go into the settings through the computer that's hard wired to the router and enter a password that will be further scrambled into what's called a Network Key. This network key is a series of letters and numbers that are then entered into each computer you wish to have access to the internet through your router.

2. Don't Broadcast Your Signal

This is also an option in the settings you go to from the hard wired computer. To see an example, click here. As you can see, as outlined by a red box, there is an option to not allow the router to "Broadcast" it's signal. If this box stayed in the "Broadcast" position, then anyone with a wireless card in their computer within 300 feet could pick up on your signal and steal your internet connection.

This has happened to my friend who happens to live in an apartment complex. There are three signals available for him to use the internet with, including his own. It's caused so much of a problem that now he can't even connect to his own router in his own house. So not only does this keep people from stealing your connection, it also helps to prevent any confusion or conflicts, especially in an apartment complex!

If you follow these steps to ensure a secure connection, then you can prevent someone from taking your internet connection!