Many would like to have a secured network, however most have no inclination as to how they would accomplish such a goal. What they may not be aware of, is that there is two major layers of security to a network that protect computers against attacks. Each individual layer adds additional protection to stop people from gaining access to your network. More importantly, it prevents them from having access to your personal computer and sensitive information.
Hard line networks that only use cables are extremely difficult to gain access to, but not impossible. Wireless, though, is fairly simple for those that know what they are doing. That is why it is so important to maintain a secured network. If your network is not secured, they could gain access from right in front of your house to your Internet. This will slow your connection down as you are now sharing it with someone else. After they have gained access to your router, they also will have access to your computer, and all files that you have shared.
This is where multiple layers of network security come into play. You will be required to use a password to gain access to the router in the event they try to change your network settings, as well as a password to access the network itself, and yet another password to access your personal computer. If you fully utilize all available layers of network security, it will be incredibly difficult for anyone illegally to access your network, or personal computer.
The process is actually simple, but is broken down into two different subcategories with step-by-step instructions for each individual layer. Below you will find the process to properly secure your network.
Important Reminder: Each layer of security will make it more difficult for you to bypass. Remember these steps, in the event that you need to disable them temporarily. You may also see “How To Create Windows Firewall Exceptions” if you need to allow specific programs through your windows firewall.
At The Router Level (First Layer of Security):
Steps to access your Router:
1) Go to Run (Win+R is the keyboard shortcut) and type cmd. This will bring up the command line.
2) In the command line, type ipconfig and hit the Enter key.
3) Locate where it says Default Gateway. This is the IP address to your Router. Usually it is 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.2.1
4) Open your browser and input that IP address into your URL box.
5) This will now open a screen to Login to your router. The default password will vary from router to router, so see your instruction manual to locate this.
After accessing your router, there are a few additional steps that you should take to increase the security to your router. The result, listed as the exact steps, will vary based on each individual router company.
- Change the Default Administration Password: This will aid in preventing people from accessing your router and changing the settings around, which could allow them easier access to your network.
- Disable Remote Login: Makes it so they are unable to even access the router, even if they have the information from remote locations.
- Change the network name (Also known as SSID): By default, a lot of network names have the product name, giving hackers a starting point, as many default passwords are the manufacturer’s name.
- Turn off SSID broadcasting: This will prevent your router from sending out the name of your network on a consistent basis as most do by default.
- Add the individual IP address of each computer you use, and filter out the rest: This is also called IP filtering/Mac Filtering.
- Enable your routers wireless encryption: Most will have WPA ,WPA2 ,WEP, and several others. The best for personal use is WPA or WPA2. WEP is only basic encryption, and could be broken within a few hours by someone who has the right knowledge or tools. Change the password to something you will not forget. With this password you can allow others access to your network, while blocking out unwanted visitors.
- Update your Router Firmware.
The exact steps in this section vary quite a bit. However, most will be found under security, or admin of your specific router.
Network And Sharing Center (Second level of security):
Windows offers an additional layer of security within the Network and Sharing Center. To access this area, and properly secure your computer from the network follow the steps listed below.
1) Press the Start Icon
2) Click Control Panel on the right hand side
3) Click Network
4) Click Setup File Sharing
This is the Network and Sharing Center for Windows.
The next steps are fairly simple to ensure the highest level of security. You may change a few settings based on how often you have others accessing your files, or you may just turn them on as necessary.
Make sure under Sharing and Discovery the settings below are changed:
- Network discovery- Off
– File sharing- Off
– Public folder sharing-Off
– Printer sharing-Off
– Password protected sharing-ON
– Media sharing-Off
You can also change your network name through Windows in the Network and Sharing Center. To the right of your network name, you will see Customize After clicking Customize, you can rename the network as windows identifies it. You also may select either a Public or Private connection.
Of course these are only a few levels of security you can add to protect your network, and your personal computer. This is not factoring in your personal programs like Zone Alarm, which blocks all Internet and LAN activity when you hit Stop Traffic, or other anti-virus software. Many of which will block, and attempt to trace the IP of anyone who attempts to hack through their programs.