Five Key Tips to Maximize Your Wireless Network Security

If your Internet bill has recently gone up, or if download speeds have significantly decreased during the last few months, your Wi-Fi network may have been compromised. Somebody may have discovered your Wi-Fi password, and is now making use of your private home network, accessing the Internet and maybe even getting access to your private files, family photos, and so on.

Fortunately, there are several simple steps that you can take to protect your network. Here are some quick, easy to follow methods that will keep 99% of the hackers at bay.

1. Don’t use default passwords

Change the default router user name and password. Most routers come with predefined user names and passwords, and hackers will always try to break into your Wi-Fi network by making use of them. So the first logical step is to change the user name. Pick a name that includes letters and numbers and it’s not that easy to guess. Try something like letmein4, for example.

Then, choose a password that’s as long and strong as possible, preferably above 20 characters. Some routers will limit its length to about 15 characters, which is good enough if you can also include special characters in your password. There are several websites that will generate a strong password for you.

strong-password-generator

2. Choose the proper Wi-Fi encryption protocol

If your Wi-Fi network makes use of the ancient WEP protocol, it can be easily broken by a kid using his smartphone. The best encryption technology that exists today is WPA2, so be sure to make use of it.

3. Set strong Wi-Fi passwords

Don’t forget to change the password of your Wi-Fi network as well. Upgrade the existing password to one that includes capital letters, small letters, numbers and special characters. Don’t worry about remembering this complex password, because you will only use it when you want to add a new device to your network, and this will probably happen once or twice per year. It’s enough to have the password written down in a notebook.

4. Replace the router antennas

Buy one or more directional antennas for your router, or make one. Most routers have 1…3 omnidirectional antennas, which emit Wi-Fi signal in every direction. If you think that one of your neighbors may try to hack your Wi-Fi network, it may be better to replace the standard router antennas with one or more directional antennas.

use-a-directional-antenna

Unscrew the existing antennas, and then plug-in the new ones using an extension cable. Then, orient the antennas towards the device that needs the strongest Wi-Fi signal. This way, the signal will be concentrated towards that device, and its intensity will significantly decrease for the devices that aren’t located near it – your evil neighbor’s devices.

5. Enable MAC address filtering

Each piece of Wi-Fi equipment has a unique serial, and you can set up your router in such a way that it will refuse connections from other devices, which have different MAC addresses. You can find out the MAC address easily – here’s an article that teaches you how to do that. Some hackers may be able to clone one of your MAC addresses, but this is an extra layer of security that will help keep most of them at bay.

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How to Keep Your PC Virus-Free

No matter how many security applications your computer may have, it can get infected every now and then. In fact, if it is connected to the Internet – and what computer isn’t connected to the net these days? – it was probably infected with a virus at least once or twice until now.

If this has happened to you, fear not, for this article will teach you everything you need to know to keep your computer safe.

1. Choose the proper operating system

We’ve all heard it for years! Mac computers cannot get viruses! The recent past has proved that this affirmation was wrong. And before you start thinking that I am a Windows fanboy, I know that this OS has had, and continues to have problems as well.

linux-os-security

So what are we left with? The clear winner, at least when it comes to security, is Linux. This doesn’t mean that you should give away all your dear applications because you’ve moved to a much more secure operating system, though. These days there are several Linux distributions that work fine in dual booting environments. Many of them can also run from a standard USB drive, without installing anything on your hard drive.

This means that you could, for example, boot into Linux, and then use this OS to surf the net. Then, when you’re done surfing, you can reboot your computer and start your beloved operating system and applications.

2. Use an antivirus and a malware scanner

Most people install an antivirus – often times, a free one – and then forget about it. The reality is that you will need one of the top paid antiviruses if you want to keep your computer secure. Fortunately, there are independent websites like AV comparatives, which test the best antiviruses that are available on the market rigorously, and then post the results of their research online.

av-comparatives-results

You will also need a malware scanner. This is an application that is able to detect unwanted cookies, worms, trojans, and so on, bad data and apps that may pass by an antivirus solution. Here’s a guide that details the malware cleaning process.

3. Scan each and every file before getting and using it

Use as many different antiviruses as you can. Most antiviruses misbehave when they are running in parallel on the same computer, though. Fortunately, there are services like VirusTotal which incorporate several online antiviruses, making the process a breeze.

4. Keep your OS and applications updated

Adobe Flash is responsible for infecting lots of computers. I’m not talking about the application itself, which can be helpful sometimes, but about PCs that run outdated versions of the application or plug-in. Sadly, several fishy websites will try to disguise their viruses as helpful updates. Always download updates from the official website!

fake-plugin-updates

So be sure to use a modern operating system and update it and the installed applications whenever a new version is made available.

5. Make use of strong passwords

Often times, people don’t even bother to set up a login password for their operating systems. Don’t make the same mistake: use a different password – and the strong one! – for each account, website, etc. I know, it’s a lot of work, and you may forget a password every now and then, but you can use password keepers like RoboForm, for example, to make the job much easier on your end.

6. Use your brain

Okay, so now you’ve got lots of security mechanisms in place. Still, they won’t be of any help if you are taking irrational decisions when it comes to Internet security. Don’t open attachments from emails you weren’t expecting, for example. Resist the temptation to click the ads or game/plugin install links on any Internet page, no matter how attractive they may look.

If your bank emails you and asks you to reconfirm the credit card info, don’t do it! If the email looks legit, give them a call before handing out the details of your credit card to a villain. If you get an email which states that you just won $10 million – and this happened despite the fact that you don’t play any lottery games – it’s clear that somebody’s trying to scam you.

As you can see, your brain can be better than any antivirus that you may install and use. Of course, it can also make you install a virus, which is disguised as an appealing application, movie watching plugin, etc. Stay away from shady websites and you should be all right. Good luck!

 

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