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Set Up and Encrypt Your First Wireless Network at Home
By: Katie Gatto
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    Table of Contents:
  • Set Up and Encrypt Your First Wireless Network at Home
  • Hardware Setup
  • Software Setup

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    Set Up and Encrypt Your First Wireless Network at Home - Software Setup

    (Page 3 of 3 )


    1. Go to the Linksys router configuration page via your web browser. You must do this on the computer that is connected to the router. Leave the field for the "User Name" blank and type "admin" into the field for the password. This should log you into the dashboard for your router, and allow you access to make changes.

    2. Change your password and username, because having an encrypted network with the default username and password is just as bad as having a network with no security on it at all. Be sure to follow the strong password guide above.

    3. Click on the tab that is labeled "Wireless."

    4. Click on the tab that says "Wireless Security."

    5. Find the "Security Mode" drop-down menu. This will show you all of the available methods of encryption. Now you have to choose between the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) and Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA). If you only have newer devices, choose the Wi-Fi Protected Access option. If you have older devices in the house, which may not be able to work with the Wi-Fi Protected Access standards, then choose the Wired Equivalent Privacy option. That way, you can be sure that you get the best choice for your hardware. We will assume that you choose WEP, since you can use that on hardware of any age. If you choose WPA, see the steps below.

    6. If you have not already changed you password, you will be prompted to do some now. If you have changed it, you may have to simply enter it. Once you do this, you will click on the "Generate" button to create four unique 10- or 26-character keys that can be used to access your network. You do have control over the key length. If you choose "64 bit 10 hex digits," then you will get a 10-digit key; if you choose 128-bit 26 hex digits, you will get a 26-digit key.

    7. You will now have to choose one of these keys. Look them over, and then choose 1, 2, 3, or 4 from the drop-down box next to the words "Default Transmit Key." Just like the password, you can write this down only if you have somewhere very safe to put it, like a locked box.

    8. Click on the words "Save Settings" and then "Continue. You have just completed your setup.  

    If you choose Wi-Fi Protected Access as your setup of choice, follow the instructions above to step five and then:  

    1. Select WPA or WPA2 from the drop-down menu. WPA2 is a newer version of the WPA standard, but either will work well for a basic home network. If you have not already changed you password, you will be prompted to do some now. If you have changed it, you may have to simply enter it.

    2. Choose an encryption standard. While there is not a set right or wrong answer here, there are some general guidelines. As a rule the TKIP encryption is most commonly used with the WPA setup, and the AES encryption is most commonly used with WPA2 setup. Unlike above, your key will be chosen automatically, so you do not need to worry about the manual selection.

    3. Click on the words "Save Settings" and then "Continue. You have just completed your setup.  

    A note to everyone: while you do not have to sign out of the router software, it is a good idea. If you do not, anyone who comes by the system could just go in and make random changes. It's better to be signed out; that's even more true if you are the type of user who rarely shuts down the computers in your house.  

    Now you can create a secure wireless network for your house without having to become a security expert. Just be sure to remember your password, because you will need to input it when you want to connect other computers to your network. As a general rule you should not write down passwords, but since it may be months between uses, you can probably write it down as long as you keep it in a safe place, like your locked fireproof box.  

    A note on operating systems  

    For most of you, the operating system that you use will not be an issue. When I say most of you, I am referring to the users of Apple, Windows and most flavors of Linux. That being said, a few flavors of Linux are wireless-network-picky. These require a great deal of attention, as the systems have set requirements.

    If you have one of these, you can usually get help through that operating system's community. Most users of one of these systems will be aware, but this is a friendly heads-up to those of you who are new to the land of Tux.  

    Are these official instructions?  

    Yes and no; to be honest, this is because no one will ever know the system as well as the folks who designed it, but there is some additional information included in the instructions that you will find helpful if you are new to wireless security. Most instructions assume that the person doing setup has some basic security background. While we cannot give you a comprehensive background in one piece, we can help you to understand the concepts you will be working with during this one setup.

    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.


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