How to secure your broadband wi-fi

If you have a broadband connection the chances are that you can also access the signal wirelessly using a technology called wi-fi.

The problem is this means other people can potentially use it too - particularly if no password, or a weak password, has been set.

Here are some tips to make sure you are not paying for the bandwidth that others are using and to keep your family secure online.

Make sure you use secure passwords

Password or passphrase?

Password: A mixture of upper case, lower case letters and number typically 6-10 digits long. More vulnerable to being 'guessed' by hacking software.

Passphrase: A combination of words that have meaning to the user and can be easily remembered. These are typically 20-30 characters in length.

Try Get Safe Online's password strength checker

It sounds dull but weak passwords are the most common reason people get their wi-fi connection compromised. When choosing passwords make sure they are hard to guess.

I favour a passphrase which is a series of memorable words - these make nice long and hard to guess combinations.

To make a passphrase as strong as possible avoid using well-known phrases or names. Also, make sure no-one's looking over your shoulder while you're typing it in. With both passwords and passphrases avoid using them for more than one account.

If you struggle to remember or come up with good passwords you could try a password manager tool which will help you set unique, excellent passwords for all of your online accounts.

Keep up to date with anti-virus and other software updates

If attackers do find their way in to your network you want to make it as hard as possible for them to attack your PC and gain access to your accounts and data.

By updating software frequently and running up to date security software you can significantly reduce the chances of them being able to do this.

Set up your wi-fi security settings

Finding your security settings

The UK's four main broadband providers offer guides to wi-fi security settings.

Get started with WebWise internet security guide.

In the security settings for your router (see box right for how to do this) you will find a number of security options including Open, WEP (Wired Equivalence Privacy), WPA and WPA2 (where WPA stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access).

WPA2 is the most secure and nearly everything supports it today.

Be particularly cautious of WEP which criminals can break in mere seconds. If you need more help you can find instructions for your wireless router online or can get help from your broadband provider (again, see the 'Finding your security settings' box).

If you are running your own business

You should consider checking the logs of who is on your wireless network. You can do this in the wireless router settings page - you may be able to spot unexpected devices in a small network.

Centrally managed wireless can also make it easy to check this from a central location if you have multiple branches.

And finally...

There are plenty of great security tips online (see Related Internet links below), the important thing is to be aware of the threat and to spend some time making sure you, and your devices, are secure.

The majority of attacks can be stopped with some basic changes to your security settings and awareness - so share this knowledge with a friend, colleague or family member and help us spread the word!

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