5 Tips to secure your wireless signal

With recent news reports of offenders being caught obtaining free Internet access by piggybacking someone else's unsecured wireless broadband connection, it’s clear consumers need to take action now to secure their WiFi signal.

Michael Phillips, BroadbandChoices.co.uk product director, explains, “A home wireless network can be incredibly useful and convenient but in a world where we all have to be on the lookout against identity theft, viruses and online fraud, it’s vital that you secure your WiFi signal.”

Philips continues, “Dishonestly obtaining free Internet access is an offence under the Communications Act 2003 and a potential breach of the Computer Misuse Act. Unfortunately this still doesn’t deter some from piggybacking on someone else’s wireless broadband connection.”

BroadbandChoices.co.uk five top tips for securing your wireless network:

1. Am I secured?

If you haven’t set up security passwords yourself then it’s not likely that you will be secured. To find out, simply go to ‘My Network Places’ on your PC and scan for your wireless network. In the list that appears, there should be a picture of a padlock next to the name of your network. If there is no padlock, then you need some security.

2. Use WPA

Most new routers now offer WiFi Protected Access (WPA) passwords as well as Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). WPA offers increased security, and if your computer and other hardware is compatible, you should always use WPA as it is far harder to hack into than previous encryption methods.

3. Added security

You should also always have comprehensive anti-virus software such as Norton or McAfee installed on your computer to protect you from viruses that can open your PC up to hackers. Make sure that these are always kept up to date by regularly checking for updates on the provider’s website. You should also use a firewall - many routers have one built-in but you should run one on your PC too.

4. Isolate your wireless signal

Wireless isolation works to make your signal invisible to anyone searching for WiFi in your area. It is built-in to some routers but must be physically enabled by the user - so check your router’s manual for instructions on how to do this.

5. Use an access list

If you’re still worried, you can create an access list. All computers have their own Media Access Control (MAC) address - a way of identifying each individual computer - and you can tell your router which MAC addresses it can allow access to; blocking all others. This means that anyone wanting to use your wireless signal would not only have to have your password but would have to be on the access list too.