How to Configure your wireless router – Networking 101
So you want to go wireless. Whether it is just to network some of our vast array of increasingly diverse gadgets like smart phones and smart TV’s, or you are reducing the need for so many wires around the house, wireless routers are the way to go. How do you begin? There are many factors to consider on the type of router you buy, mostly on the amount of coverage you need or the speed of data transfer. Wireless G, Wireless N, and Wireless AC, they each have their uses and range the fastest at present with the longest range being Wireless AC. But those considerations will not be the focus of this article.
Today we will be looking at how to configure your router for secure wireless networking. All routers come with a set of defaults that can be accessed by anyone who knows them. If you don’t change these defaults when you turn your router on, than anyone passing by can log in and use your internet connection. This can make your own surfing experience slower and sometimes even put your data at risk of being intercepted and stolen. This is why it is important that we secure our wireless networks with an encrypted password to make it harder for those nefarious malcontents looking to steal your identity.
To begin, you will want to consult the manual of your router to find the default passwords for logging in wirelessly. All routers come with a default address for broadcasting wireless internet known as an SSID. For example, a Linksys router will usually show up as Linksys when you look for a network nearby. This name varies depending on your router brand and model of course. Once you have connected to your router and maybe even have access to the internet, the next thing to do is to find your IP address, or more importantly, the address of your router. This process is the same whether you are connected with a wire or through the wireless. The place to begin is to open a command prompt. You can access this by holding down the windows key and pressing R. In the prompt that shows up, type CMD. You can also get to it by opening your start menu and typing CMD in the search field.
Once the black window appears we are going to have to enter some commands. Don’t worry; it’s not as scary as it sounds or looks. To get the information we need, we will type in the command “ipconfig” as shown in the picture above. Upon hitting enter we will be shown something that looks like the following.
If you are connected to your router properly, your configuration information will look something like this. If you are connected via wireless, it would say wireless instead of Ethernet adapter. The most important information here is the default gateway. That string of 4 numbers separated by periods is your routers IP address. You will need this number to log in and make changes to your routers configuration. This number on most consumer routers will either be 192.168.2.1, 192.168.1.1, or 192.168.0.1 although there are always exceptions so it is best to go through these steps to verify your routers IP.
Now that we have our default gateway, you can close the CMD window. Next we will open our browser of choice. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, or any other internet browser you prefer will work fine for this next step. In the address bar you will type in that default gateway we pulled down earlier. This will take you to the login page for your router. This login information is different for each brand and sometimes models of router, just like the SSID from earlier. Consult your documentation for this information. Sometimes it is written on the device itself. Either way, we will be changing this information later for security reasons.
Once inside your router configuration page, the first thing we are going to want to do is change that default password. You will want to look for a tab in your router interface page that says something like Administration or Settings depending on your model and brand. Basically, you are looking for a page that has a change password control. Most routers don’t require a username to login. Either way, most routers will only let you change the password, whether you have to enter a user name or not. On Linksys for example, the default password is “admin” and no username is entered. This is common knowledge so you will want to change it to something else. Once you change the password by clicking save settings or apply, your router will restart and ask for your new password.
Whatever you change the password to; it’s time to proceed to the next step. Like the default password to get into your router settings, your wireless SSID is vulnerable. By default, there is no password attached to your wireless broadcast signal; we will want to change this. You will now want to navigate to your wireless tab to change your SSID and your password. Or you can just your password; it’s really your choice. If nobody changed their network names, there would be a lot of similar names to pick through when you are looking for your network. Because of this, it is a good idea to change the SSID to something you will easily recognize as your own, just to make things simple.
Navigate to the wireless settings tab and enter in the new information into the fields, changing your SSID and password to something different but that you will remember. Your router will again restart and ask for your credentials.
Congratulations! You have just taken the first and most basic steps to securing your network from thieves and network leaches. Now anyone coming over to visit will need your password and SSID to be able to log in to your network. And it will help keep those who are not supposed to be using your network, out.
All that has to be done now is to enter your new network information into your various devices likeTVs, computers, or smart phones and you are sailing away on wireless internet.