Computer & PC Help

NETWORK SECURITY AT HOME05 Jan

Did you know that you can see your wireless security code by simply checking a box on your Windows 7 and 8 laptop or tablet? If you go to your wireless network settings, click on security and check the box “Show Characters” this will show your Network Security Key (Code) which will allow anyone who can see this to connect to your network. So let’s say you have a neighbor or a guest and you give them the code. If they live in the vicinity of you wireless they will be able to connect anytime time they want and anyone they give the code to can connect to you network too.

What can you do? Well your router will allow you to add an extra layer of security by Mac Address filtering. What is this? Well first what is a Mac Address? A Mac Address a unique address that is given to you network card. In theory no two address are the same. It is made of letters and numbers. If you go to your command prompt on your PC you can see it by typing “ipconfig /all”. The mac address will be the “Physical Address” as listed below. Now depending on how many network cards your PC has will determine how many Mac Addresses (Physical Addresses) you have. So if you have a network that needs a network cable, that too will have a physical address. If you look at my example you will see it says Wireless Lan Adapter Wireless Network Connection..

The wired Network Card will look like this:

This one says Ethernet adapter Local Area Connection. As you can see this too has a Mac Address (Physical Address) that is different from the Wireless Network adapter.

Now, if you want to Filter the Mac Address you will need to get into your Router. My in my example, I have U-Verse the Mac address filtering looks like this.

If I click on Edit Block/Allowed Device List I can add the devices I want to allow. It’s good to note that if you enable this you will need to add EVERY Device no matter what it is, a wireless phone, computer, tablet, even anything wired – regardless of what the device is, if it’s going to connect to you network, you will need to ascertain the Mac Address/Physical address of the network card that will be connecting to you network and add it to your router.  On my router it has a place for allowed devices.  So for example if you have a PC that is both wired and wireless if you want it to connect to you network you will need to add both the Ethernet (wired) Adapter and Wireless Mac Address/Physical Address to you router.  On my device it looks like this: (in order to set this up for the first time I had to check the box “Enable Mac Filtering”).

Again, if you look at this example I have all the MAC Address of my Allowed devices to my network. This includes any and all devices that will connect. So if you have a TV or Cable Boxes that connect to you network you will need to add them too. In my case I have a Rescan for Devices button which I can use to view the Mac Address should I decide to add them to my network. Should I decide to block a device I can add that too. So say for example I have a listed device that I decide I don’t want to access my network, I can use the “>>” button to move it to the Blocked Devices side or I can simply delete it from my allowed list. There is also a place that I can just add the MAC Address or Physical Address manually too. So if I already know the Mac Address of Physical Address of the device, I can just add it.

Now depending upon what router you have will depend upon where this setting is. Yes this is advanced however this adds another layer of security to you network.

Don’t forget to hit the save button so that your setting will be saved.

Once last thing you can to to protect your network is to disable the broadcast of you SSID or you network. What this mean is when you look to connect to your network you see all those networks listed

All of these networks are broadcasting. If pull down the menu next to SSID Broadcast and disable it (again this is how it works on my router – on yours it may be different), it will not broadcast and no one will be able to see it. However, If you do this then you must manually set up all connections to your wireless network.

You also MUST make sure that the box “connect even if the network is not broadcasting its name (SSID)” is checked – this will allow the wireless card to connect no matter what. Most of the time this is a default setting but you should check this to make sure  – See below.

If you want to make sure you network is most secure follow these steps.   Most importantly this will deter people from hacking in to your network because it will make it harder to connect to your network.  On what can be considered the downside, you will ALWAYS need to add any and all devices to your router MANUALLY.  But you will control who connects to you network and this will help keep your information a little safer.  This is a bit advanced so if you wish to do this and you aren’t sure consult your IT professional.  Good Luck.

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