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Is Your Home Network Being Hacked?

If you purchased a 'Plug-n-Play' wireless home networking system and set it up thinking it was secure by default, then someone is very likely hacking your network right now! Most of these broadband pirates are relatively harmless. They just want to piggyback on your network to get free Internet access. But some hackers may have more sinister intentions. That said, there are a two simple things you need to do to make your wireless network as secure as possible.

Secure your wireless router

The first thing to do is change your router's login and password. Hackers know the default settings and could easily access your router and lock you out of your own network! Typically the router's control panel is reached by opening your Internet browser and typing in the IP address assigned to you by your ISP. (It's best to connect a computer directly to your router to do this.) All routers are a bit different so you'll need to check the manual to learn exactly how it's done. Be sure to write your new login and password down on a piece of paper and keep it in a safe place!

Enable your router's encryption

While you're there, consult the manual for instructions on turning on your encryption. This does two important things:
1) It lets you specify a password that any wireless devices will need to know in order to connect to your network.
2) It will encrypt the signals broadcast between your computer and router.

If your router gives you a choice between WEP and WPA encryption, use WPA. It's newer and more secure. When choosing a password make it about 30 characters long and be sure to use both upper and lower case letters as well a mixing in some symbols. Write it down on the same piece of paper used for your router password. You will need it immediately to log on to your network.

What you should know

No matter what you do, a determined hacker can find a way into your wireless home network. So if you pay bills online or use other such personal information sensitive sites, never allow your computer to remember the login information to those sites.