1. Encrypt Your Network
The quickest way to lock your network down is by encrypting it with either WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) encryption or one of the encryption protocols in the WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) family. Encrypting your network scrambles all of the data sent over the network so that anyone intercepting it over the air can’t read it, and any device that wants to connect the network will need to enter a password.
The older WEP encryption isn’t recommended, as there are plenty of programs that hackers can use to easily crack your network. WPA2 is currently the best option, and most routers now either come with WPA2 encryption enabled out of the box, or include it as an option in the initial setup wizard.
If you don’t have WPA2 currently enabled, you’ll find the option in your router’s wireless settings. This will prompt you to create a password that you’ll need to enter on your all of your devices to connect to the network (including the computer that you used to setup WPA2, as soon as the router resets with the new configuration).
2. Use a Strong Password
Of course, encryption loses its effectiveness if you don’t choose a good password to go with it. Birthdates, pet names, and the name of your favourite sporting team may be easy to remember, but they’re also very easy for hackers to guess and/or crack using a brute force attack.
Strong passwords, which consist of a random string of upper- and lower-case characters, symbols and numerals, are the best way to thwart hackers, especially if you make a habit of changing them on a regular basis. It’s also good practice to change your Wi-Fi password every time an employee leaves the company.
3. Change the Default Login Details for Your Wireless Router
Each brand of wireless router tends to use the same login details for logging into the router’s web-based configuration page. Linksys, for example, usually uses ‘admin’ for both the username and the password, as well as the same 192.168.1.1 IP address for accessing the settings page.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to change the default login details immediately after you set up your wireless network. While it isn’t possible to access the router settings over Wi-Fi without knowing the network password, anyone can do it through a wired connection to the network, either by plugging a cable into the wireless router directly or using a spare network port.