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The primary advantage to using a wireless home network is convenience. A wireless network affords the opportunity to connect to the Internet from practically anywhere in a home, leaving users free to work from kitchen tables and sofas, rather than forcing them to use a stationary wired connection. Unfortunately, this comes at a significant cost. When using a wireless network, anyone within range can see and potentially connect to the network, possibly compromising the security of the personal files and information on the home network's computers. Avoiding this requires prompt and regular maintenance of wireless LAN security.
Undoubtedly the most effective method to implement wireless LAN security is implementing an encryption method on the wireless network. An encryption method scrambles the information traveling over the network, preventing prying eyes from "sniffing" the packets as they move from point to point. Enable this through the router in the wireless home network. Typically, most routers offer a choice between Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) and Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA). Some routers also offer WPA2, an upgraded version of the original WPA encryption method. To bolster wireless LAN security, choose either the WPA or WPA2 methods.
If the network is using WEP encryption, a persistent hacker can use a program to randomly guess the password in roughly 10 minutes. Using WPA or WPA2, the same procedure would take 10 to 20 years. Thus, WPA is the highly preferred choice to increase wireless LAN security.
The strength of the wireless network's password is also an important consideration when it comes to bolstering security. Ideally, a wireless password should consist of at least 10 characters, using a random combination of upper and lower case letters, along with special characters such as "!" "%" and so forth. As the password can be saved to network computers, do not worry about choosing something that can be easily remembered; instead, choose something as secure as possible to avoid problems with hackers and snoopers down the line.
Additionally, regularly changing the password on the wireless network is the best way to keep unwanted individuals out of the system. Ideally, change the wireless network password at least once every month. If there is significant personal financial data on the network computers, consider changing it once every week, or once every two weeks. Many routers offer the ability to randomly generate password keys for wireless networks; use this whenever possible, as it will avoid predictive patterns that can develop over time with strictly human generated password strings.