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Safe At Home

 
‘Home Sweet Home’ Wireless

An insecure home wireless system can jeopardize your computer and its data. If your home wireless system isn’t password-protected and encrypted, you are asking for trouble.

Trouble could come in the form of a neighborhood kid who piggybacks on your Internet service. While he plays video games online and talks to his friends over VOIP (Internet-based) telephone service, your Internet service may become sluggish.

But an unsecured home wireless system can also be used to commit crime. Law enforcement officers will come knocking on your door if someone uses your Internet connection to upload or download child pornography. And the bad guys don’t have to live next door. Powerful Wi-Fi antennas can pull in a home network’s signal from as far away as three miles.

So take steps to secure your home wireless system. Consult the owner’s manual for your wireless router or go online to learn how to make your home wireless system safer.
 
  • WPA2: Make sure your wireless router is using WPA2, the most secure type of Wi-Fi connection, on your home system (WPA stands for “Wi-Fi Protected Access.”) Older routers may still use the first generation of Wi-Fi security (called WEP), but it is easy to crack and is no longer considered secure.
 
  • Secure passwords are long, and complex.  When you create a password for your home wireless network, don’t be tempted to make it short or simple. The longer and more complicated the password, the more difficult it will be for someone (or someone with a password-cracking software program) to figure it out. Use a mix of numbers, alphanumeric symbols (@,!,%, etc.), and upper and lowercase letters in your password. Don’t use words that can be found in a dictionary.

It may take a little longer to enter your lengthy, secure password the first time you connect a device to your wireless system. But after that first time, the device will retain the password and you won’t have to enter it again. Your extra-long password will make it much harder for an uninvited guest to tap into your home network.