How to lock down your Wi-Fi and protect your home

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Topic: How to lock down your Wi-Fi and protect your home

People love to mooch Wi-Fi. They find an unprotected signal and sign on. Why not? It’s free. Your neighbor won’t mind if you steal a little broadband to watch Netflix, right?

Criminals also love unsecured Wi-Fi, and they do mean harm. They use your network to attack your gadgets and steal your personal information. They download illegal files through your router, making you vulnerable to a police investigation.

Moochers slow down your connection, causing buffering, and make it harder for you to finish online tasks or a movie. But moochers aren’t the only cause for a pokey connection.

If your router is more than a few years old, it’s time to get a new one. I like picking the router based on the size of a home.

Here are a few tips for securing your Wi-Fi router against unauthorized hitchhikers.

1. Get a list of everything using your network

Time to look at your network. First, you’ll want to log into your router’s administration console. You will log into your router, the same way you’d log into any computer. Every router has a different way of doing this, so check your manual for specific instructions.

Ensure your device is connected to your router; it doesn’t matter whether this is through a wireless connection or by cable. Open a browser and type in the router’s IP address. The IP address is a set of numbers and the default depends on your router’s manufacturer. The common ones are 192.168.1.1, 192.168.0.1, or 192.168.2.1.

Check the DHCP Client List or Attached Devices section that shows what gadgets are connected to your router. Typically, they are listed by IP address, MAC address and/or Name. Once you’ve surveyed this list of connected gadgets, figure out which ones belong to you. You should recognize your main computer’s name, and your tablet or smartphone should have the name of the manufacturer or model.

If you can’t make sense of the list or identify certain devices, turn off each gadget one by one. You can also disable each gadget’s Wi-Fi. For tracking purposes, jot these network details down or take a quick pic using your smartphone so you can reference them later. If you’ve switched everything off and still see unknown gadgets, you know you have a culprit. Now, there’s a much simpler way: You can use the aptly named Wireless Network Watcher. This free program gives you a list of gadgets connected to your Wi-Fi network. You can quickly fire it up whenever you want to check or leave it open for real-time monitoring. Easy.

Topic Discussed: How to lock down your Wi-Fi and protect your home

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