Saturday, March 7, 2009

How to stop Wi-Fi poachers

Dang neighbors! Always getting the milk for free, while you're paying for the cow. Here's how to make your network invisible to the outside world.

Everyone has a different system to keep your home secure networks. And by "secure" I mean "safe from cheapskate neighbors who seek to steal some free Internet."
Some users rely on their router WPA encryption capabilities, while others use the MAC address filtering. Some do both. I'm not wild about either approach, since it involves a lot of hoop-jumping when I have to add new devices to the network.
Instead, I'm a fan of invisibility. I had the simple step of disabling the SSID broadcast on my router, my network that effectively invisible to the neighbors. Hey, can not steal what they do not know is there, right?
If you have ever found a stranger in your own home or, for example, the local coffee shop, you know what I mean. Stray router Wi-Fi signals bounce around the place. However, a PC can be seen only by those networks broadcast SSID. Shutting down, and it is as if the router is not even there.
Of course, it's there for your PC and devices connected to the Internet. So how do you connect to a network invisible? Just enter the network name manually. In Vista, for example, the head of the Center for Network and Sharing, click Set up a connection or network, and then manually choose to connect to a wireless network. Enter your network name (as designated in the router) and you're good to go. You should also check this link to start automatically so you do not have to repeat this process, and to connect even if the network is not broadcasting to overcome natural resistance to Vista network invisible.
If you do not know how to turn off the SSID broadcast of the router, see the manual. In my D-Link router, the setting is actually called Visibilidad state your mileage may vary.
This is not a bulletproof security solution. I am sure that many people call me stupid, reckless and other choice words. But because I have targeted the suburbs security needs, I do not feel the need for encryption, filtering and other tough measures.

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