Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Fight Back Against WiFi Bandwidth Vampires

Question:
What method or methods do you recommend for limiting the access other people (like neighbors) can have to my home wireless network?

The IT Guy says:
The first important step is to change the default name of your wireless network to something people would not easily guess, and then turn off the “broadcasting” feature which sends the network name out over the open wireless airwaves. In your router configuration menus, this will most likely be called the “SSID Broadcast.” You want to turn it off. Note that after you make a change in the web browser to the router settings, generally you will have to click SAVE CHANGES at the bottom of the screen.

Changing the network name and turning off SSID broadcast will, most likely, keep most people off your wireless network. When people are hunting for a wireless network to join, typically they are looking for openly broadcast, unsecured networks.

Many people opt to use a WEP password to secure their network. When WEP authentication is required, someone must enter the correct WEP password to gain access wirelessly. The main disadvantage of WEP is that it substantially slows down your computer’s connection to the network and therefore the Internet.

Another method at least as safe as WEP is to enable MAC address filtering on your router. No, this is not referring to “MAC” as in “Macintosh” computers—in this case MAC refers to the “machine address code” of the networking cards in the computers you own at home that will access the network. When MAC address filtering is enabled, you are required to type the multi-digit codes for your computers’ network cards into the router configuration page for MAC filtering. With this setup, only your computers have authorized access to the wireless network, even if someone else guesses your closed network name (since your SSID is not broadcast). MAC address filtering can be used along with WEP encryption, but when it is used by itself (no WEP required) it does not slow down the connections your computers make to the Internet.

Next Tip: Converting Video from Analog to Digital