Setting up a Wireless Network For Your Home: The Secure Way

Open laptop with digital tablet and white smartphone. All with iSetting up a wireless network is no longer a task only for the technical-savvy people anymore, considering the fact that everyone has at least a laptop, tablet or smartphone that has wireless connectivity. Let me start by saying that setting up a wireless network for your home is not rocket science if you just need to access the Internet from all your devices, and this article will teach you how to get everything up and running in no time. However, if you need to set up advanced features such as port forwarding or configuring a home NAS server, things can get a bit more complicated.  Luckily you can take this online course and learn both the basics, as well as more complex aspects of networking.

Wireless Network Basics

A wireless network consists of a wireless router – the center piece of the network, an Internet connection (which can be a broadband always-on connection or a DSL connection through a modem) and the devices that connect to the network. Configuring the wireless router is the part of the process that’s usually the hardest, but following these simple steps should have everything working shortly.

Before proceeding, make sure you have the following items ready:

  • Wireless router and power adapter;
  • Modem (if you have a modem-based Internet connection)
  • Ethernet cables
  • Computer or laptop

Jennifer Marsh wrote a very interesting blog post on computer networking, emphasizing on the hardware part – make sure to read it.

Step 1 – Setting up the router

The first step is to set up Internet connectivity for your wireless router. If you have a broadband Internet connection, simply connect the cable to the WAN/Internet port on the router; if you use a ADSL connection, use an Ethernet connection to connect the wireless router to the modem. Once the cables are all set, plug in the router and power it on.

Step 2 – Accessing the router

In order to configure your router, you will need to establish a connection between your computer or laptop and the router. If you are using a laptop, you can check for wireless networks and see if the router’s default wireless network is already active – if it is, connect to it, otherwise use another Ethernet cable to connect your machine to one of the router’s ports.

Once a connection to the router is established, open up an Internet browser and enter http://192.168.0.1 or http://192.168.1.1 in the address bar and hit Enter. This will bring up the router’s configuration interface. You will be required for a username and password, which you can find in the router’s documentation; you can try entering admin in both fields, as these are the default login credentials for some routers, but this may not always be the case.

Step 3 – Configuring network access

Some routers come with a step-by-step wizard that will allow you to easily set up the network, but if your router doesn’t have this feature, look for the “Basic Settings” menu. Unless you’re using a PPPoE connection, or other type of connection that requires a username and password to connect to the Internet, your router and any connected devices should already be able to connect to the Internet; if you do have a username and password, enter them in the corresponding fields in the WAN section.

From the WAN menu, you will also set additional network settings. In the SSID field, enter a name for your network, and select a security protocol from the drop-down menu nearby. There are multiple security protocols to choose from, WPA2 and WPA being the most secure, but if you plan to have some legacy devices connected to your wireless network as well, you will need to use the older and less-secured WEP protocol. You also have the option of leaving your network unsecured, meaning that everyone in range will be able to connect to it, but this is strongly unadvisable. When setting up your WPA or WEP passwords, make sure you use complex and hard-to-guess combinations of letters and numbers that are easy to remember for you but hard to guess for others. You will need to enter this password on every device you plan to connect to your network.

You can learn more about wireless security by taking this online course.

Step 4 – Configuring network protocols

The network protocol is another important aspect to configure, as it will dictate the speed for your network. Depending on the devices you will have connecting to your network, you will have to choose from 802.11b, 802.11g and 802.11n protocols. If your router comes with a mixed mode that can use all three protocols, use that mode, as it will select the proper protocol for each device. This will provide the best performance across a wide range of devices.

Another thing to configure is IP addressing protocol. You can have your router assign static IPs to your devices, or assign them using the DHCP protocol. Unless you specifically need to use fixed IPs, set it to assign IPs automatically.

Learn more about network protocols and advanced router configuration by taking this online course.   

Step 5 – Securing your router

To add an extra layer of security to your network, don’t forget to secure your router by setting up a password. This will ensure that, even if someone manages to join your wireless network, they will not be able to access the administration interface and modify its settings. Look for the Security menu in your router’s administration interface, and set up a custom username and password.

Save your settings, restart the router if required and your wireless network should be ready for use. Enjoy!

Final Thoughts

As you can see, setting up a wireless network is not a complicated process, but it is very important to get the security settings right. Some people overlook security simply because they notice that their routers just work out-of-the-box, but this is a very risky thing to do, as it will leave all your connected devices vulnerable. Using the steps in this tutorial, your network as well as your devices will be secured from outside intrusions, but if you want to be extra sure that everything is safe, take this online course on wireless security and hacking to identify and deal with any potential security holes your network might have.