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How do I secure my router and network?
While a router is a great way to share an Internet connection and secure your network, there a a few things to do to make sure everything is secure.

- Change your password: The default password on many routers is "password" or "admin". Some don't even have one. Hackers know this. Log into your router via your Internet browser by typing in its IP Address (usually or - check your user manual to be sure) into the address bar. Once there, you will see a password section where you can change it. Make sure it's a good one, too. Avoid any word in the dictionary, names, birthdays or anniversaries. Create a random assortment of letters, numbers and other characters (such as $,&, or /) so your password can't easily be cracked.

- Make sure the firewall is enabled: Most routers have this feature turned on by default, but check it anyway. There should be a "Firewall" or "Security" section in your router interface.

- Disable Remote Administration: This feature allows specific computers outside your internal network to change the settings of your router. You shouldn't need this feature turned on. Stick to making changes at home.

- Limit the number of available IP Addresses: You router assigns internal IP addresses to each computer connected to the router. These cannot be seen by anyone outside your network. Limit the number of available addresses so it reduces the number of computers that could break in and connect to your network without your knowledge. Unless you often have visitors in your home that use your Internet connection, limit the number of address to the number of computers you own, plus one for the router and any networked devices (such as a printer or hard drive than connects directly to the network without a computer).

- Limit the devices that can connect to a wireless router: You can enable a feature called "MAC Address Filtering" on your wireless router to limit the devices that can connect. Each network adapter in each computer has a unique identity code embedded in it called a MAC Address. You can use the filtering feature of the router to ensure only devices with matching MAC Addresses can connect.

- Enable wireless encryption: If you have a wireless router, you'll want to encrypt the transmissions so people within range won't be able to connect or intercept and read your data. WEP encryption provides moderate security and will protect your network from most intruders, especially if you change the key often. WPA is more robust and would require more computer resources than is practical to crack. Most hackers will try elsewhere.

- Limit your wireless connection by speed: If you have all 802.11B, G or N equipment, limit the connections only to equipment that runs at the same speed.

- Block potentially harmful sites or users: In your router, you have a feature that allows you to block either the name or IP address of any site you want to stay away from. In addition, you can block connections from other users.

- Block programs and services: You can block certain programs, ports and services from connecting at certain times or all the time. This prevents software from "phoning home" or your children from chatting when they should be doing homework.

- Disable DMZ connections: Short for Demilitarized Zone, this allows you to place a computer or service out in the open and allow connections to from the Internet. Even if you are running a web server, you probably don't want to leave a computer unprotected from the Internet open only the ports you need. Make sure this feature is disabled.

- Disable services you don't need: Unless you are running a Web, Mail or FTP server, disable open access to the ports those services use. You don't need those ports to be open and visible in order to access the Internet or check your mail. Be sure to disable Universal Plug and Play since this allows computers outside the internal network to run scripts or programs and is a severe security risk.

- Check Your Security: Log onto a site like to check your network's security. On the GRC site, look for the "Sheilds Up!" utility to scan your ports for vulnerabilities. It's a harmless scan that will tell you if you're open to not so harmless scans.

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