Because of its disadvantages (such as poor long range support) ‘Wi-Fi’ is mainly used in small networks. And where I come from “Wi-Fi” is still a bit new, but again, little by little, people are buying wireless routers rather than the Non-Wireless counterparts.
With a wireless network, once setup (say a small home network with an Internet connection) you can forget about setting up wires and all that and can connect any device to your network as long you’re within the range (you can even watch a video on YouTube while in the Bathroom!, okay that’s a weird thing to say ;-)).
So being a genius :P, I myself too bought a new Prolink wireless router few days ago and set up a little home network with internet access using an ADSL line. Now it’s true that Wi-Fi or wireless network sounds pretty cool but unlike with an old-school wired network, another drawbacks of a wireless network is that, unless you’ve properly configured it … most of these wireless routers don’t use any encryption methods at all so anyone with a decent knowledge could easily connect to your home network (without any approval of course).
This was also the case with my Prolink H5001N which broadcasts its signals without any encryption. Although luckily I don’t have any geeky neighbors within its range 😉 but just for fun, I wanted to add an encryption to it and thought I’d share the simple procedure with you folks.
Depending on your router (vendor and model) the configuration might be a bit different but still since these methods are somewhat universal so you should be able find them in your wireless modem with ease, most of the time.
Okay … let’s do it.
Now I’m assuming that you’re a beginner at this and won’t go into all the details but will try to make it simple.
1. First turn on your Router and your Wi-Fi device (say in your Laptop) and since the router doesn’t have any encryption you should be able to connect to it without any issues.
2. Then open your web browser and enter the below IP address in the URL field to access your router (unless you’ve manually changed it … these numbers are a standard and should work in all the wireless modems/routers).
3. Now this should open up a web interface that lets you configure the router settings. In the Prolink H5001N series, just look for an icon with text in it that says “Wireless” and when you move your mouse over it you should see new links below it. From these links click on the one that says “Security”.
4. You can ignore values like SSID Type etc. By default under “Encryption” it should display “Disabled”. Now from that drop down menu you can choose between few encryption methods.
The first one is WEP and have few other such as: WPA (TKIP), WPA2 (AES), WPA2 (TKIP) etc. Personally I like the WPA2 (AES -- aka CCMP) because it’s one of the secure one of the bunch and easy to configure.
So from the drop down menu choose:
Note: If you have a bit of an older router then some of these encryption algorithms might not be listed. But then again, the vendor might have updated the router firmware with those features so make sure to have an up-to-date firmware.
5. Now since we’re creating a home network, under “WPA Authenticate Mode” make sure you’ve chosen “Personal (Pre-Shared Key)”.
6. Leave the “Pre-Shared Key Format” at its default value (“Passpharse”).
7. Under “Pre-Shared Key”: in the black area type in your key (maximum 63 characters), for additional security try to use numbers and other symbols, including letters.
8. Now click on the “Apply Changes” button at the bottom which should restart your wireless modem/router.
9. Now try to connect to the wireless network as usual and then this time should be prompted for a key.
Simply enter the “Key” you entered above (twice) and if everything went well you should be connected to your Wireless router/modems through Wi-Fi with some decently powerful encryption.
The below screenshots are in Windows XP but depending on your OS (Windows Vista/2000/7 or in Ubuntu or GNU/Linux in general) message boxes will differ.
10. The last step: Now this might be optional depending on your router, however, to make the changes permanent, I had to re-log into the Prolink router and save the changes manually, otherwise it’d lose the changes next time you switch on.
So for that, again after successfully connecting to the router with encryption enabled, again type the below IP address to log-into the router.
Now with my Prolink H5001N2 router, as soon as I log in and accessed the “Wireless Security Setup” page, at the bottom it displayed a message as shown below, asking me to click on the “Save” button to apply the changes permanently. So go to that page and click on that “Save” button to finish things up!.
11. (Optional) However, if you don’t see that message, then you can make sure that everything is saved permanently by, after logging into the router, as shown below, click on the “Admin” -> “Save & Reboot”, then from the drop down menu make sure to select “Save Current Configuration”, and then click on the “Apply” button.
Few things that you can do to enhance the wireless network security…
*. Remember, no encryption method can really save you from hackers or other types of security vulnerabilities but as a general practice, you should change the “Pre-Shared Key” once in a while to allow maximum protection.
*. Change that “admin” account:
Almost all routers come with a default administrative user account called “admin” and the password is “password”. So make sure you’ve manually changed that administrator’s password.
*. Backup your router data to disk:
This way, say that you had to reset your router (more below) then you don’t have to make all the changes one by one manually afterward. Just locate the backup and off you go!.
*. If shi* happens, then press the “reset” button:
If anything bad happens, say you forgot your key or admin password (yikes!) … then you can always reset your router to factory settings by simply pressing the “reset” button which is usually located at the back (have a look at the manual for more).
Well that’s pretty much it. Good luck.