Tips for Securing Your Home Router
Seemingly minor and easily overlooked settings can still have profound security implications. Here are some steps you can take to make sure your wired or wireless home router — and by extension, your network — is as secure as possible.
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If you're having trouble getting a successful connection in your
wireless network, it could be your encryption settings. Try
these tips to get securely connected:
1) Start with Encryption off (if you can)
Encryption is another level of complexity (see below) and you
need to reduce complexity (walk before you run) when first setting
up your wireless LAN. So see if your client card and Access
Point (if you're using one) will allow Encryption to be turned
off (most do), get your networking, then set up Encryption.
You may also need to set the Authentication Type for some equipment.
See Step 3 below.
2) Read the instructions
Your vendor may require a specific number of characters for the
Encryption key. They may also interpret the characters you
input in a specific way.
Look to see if you need to specify whether your key is an ASCII
string (alpha-numeric) or Hexadecimal (Hex). If the key can accept
Hexadecimal format, check to see whether you need to add anything
to your key such as "0x" to denote a hex string.
3) Watch your Authentication Method The 802.11 standard defines two types of Authentication -
Open System and Shared Key. This
Proxim article has a good explanation (with diagrams)
of the difference between the two methods. Some products
let you set this mode independently of using WEP. Others
automatically use Open System if WEP is disabled and use Shared
Key when WEP is enabled.
If you're having a problem communicating between a client and
Access Point, first try using the Open System setting and
WEP off. When you enable WEP, change the setting to use
Shared Key authentication for the best security.
4) Match WEP bit levels You can mix 40/64 and 128bit WEP cards in a network.
However, 128 bit WEP cards can communicate with 40/64 bit WEP
cards only if they are set to use 40 bit keys! See
this page for more info.
5) Keep It Simple!
WEP implementations differ from vendor to vendor and documentation
isn't the best. Here are some tips for success
If your software offers the "passphrase" method
of key generation:
keep the passphrase string short
use only numbers and letters and
no spaces or other characters
The "passphrase" key entry method is not the
same as "string" entry. The "passphrase"
method allows you to enter an alpha-numeric phrase, but that
entry is used to generate a Hexadecimal key of proper
"String" entry usually requires that you input
a an alpha-numeric character string of the proper length
for the level of WEP that your product has. Use the pop-up
WEP code summary for reference.
If your software offers only manual key entry
(usually you'll see a series of two character entry boxes):
start with all 1s or 0s as your key,
get it working, then increase the complexity of your code
use Hexadecimal characters only (the
numbers 0-9 and letters a-f) unless your documentation tells
6) Enter all the
Note in the example configuration utility screenshot
below the pairs of asterisks in each of the 5 entry boxes
for each key. This means that you need to enter twoHexadecimal characters in each box (5 boxes with 2 characters
equals the 10 Hex characters you need for a 40/64bit WEP Hex key).
Popup the WEP Code Summary
to see how many characters you need to enter for other schemes.
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