MacMost Now 360: Set Up Wireless Security

If you have a wireless network at home you should set up wireless security. It is as simple as setting a password through the Airport Utility application or the Web interface of your wireless router. This will not only prevent others from accessing your network and using your Internet connection, but it will also encrypt your data.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode, let's look at wireless security on our network. If you don't have a password set up for your wireless network, that means anybody - your neighbors, somebody driving by - could get access to the internet through your network, or worse, could get access to computers or devices on your network. So you want to set up a password; it's pretty easy to do. So, start off by running airport utilities and application on your Mac. And then click the manual setup button on the bottom here. Once you're in the manual controls, select airport at the top and then, from this bar here, select wireless. And this is where you set the name of your wireless network, and also where you select the security. You have several different options - if you click here, you can see them all. First is WEP, then there's WPA and WPA2, and then there's also enterprise versions of those. So which one to use? Well, WEP is the old style security and it requires you to have a password of a specific length that's hard to remember. It's also not very secure as it's type of encryption has been broken in the past. So, WPA is the better, newer type. So, you should use the WPA/WPA2 encryption. You can try WPA2 if you don't have any old devices that require just plain WPA, and that should be just fine. And once you select that, the next thing you do is enter a password and verify it. You can also click on the key here to go into the password assistant that helps you choose a very secure password. Also, please check out what I've written about online password security, it applies here to make sure you have a strong password. Just go to MacMost.com/online-password-security.html. If you want to add an extra bit of security, click on wireless options. Now here you can choose to create a closed network. The difference between a closed network and an open network is an open network tells everybody what its name is and all you need is the password to get in. A closed network will actually hide the network. You need to know the name of the network and the password to get in. A little bit of extra security if you're worried. Also, you can change the transmit power of your airport extreme or time capsule. So, say if you're just in a very small area and you don't want to transmit to the neighbors, you can try cutting back to 50%. Of course if you have trouble reaching the far edges of your house with only 50%, then you may just need to have it at 100%. Now here's the thing that most people don't understand about these passwords - they're not simply passwords to get into your wireless network and be able to use it. They are encryption passwords. This means that when you set them, all the data that goes back and forth between your computers and your wireless base station are encrypted. So, if you don't use a password, it's all in the clear. Not only can somebody get in and access your network, but if somebody is just listening in on the radio waves going back and forth between your computer and your base station, they can clearly see what it is that you're transmitting. Passwords, credit card information, whatever it is. But if you choose a password, it's encrypting all that data using that password, so somebody just listening into the radio waves is going to get a bunch of garbage unless they actually have the password to encrypt it. That's why it's so important to always use encryption, even if you're not concerned about neighbors using your Wi-Fi. Now if you don't have an Apple base station, you can still do this. Just that every base station supports it. So whether you have Linksys, or something else, you usually have to go into a web interface. Look at the manual that came with it or download a new one from the website and you'll see that there's a way to log onto the base station. You do it through safari, through the web browser, and then can navigate through some menus that are built into this web interface. It's kind of like a website inside the base station itself. You can go to wireless security, and you have the same choices, usually. WEP, WPA, WPA2, you can set up a password, and then not only is your network secure, but all your data is encrypted as well. So I hope you found this useful, please take the time to set a password for your wireless network if you haven't already done so. Until next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: 8 Responses to “MacMost Now 360: Set Up Wireless Security”

    Cibertek
    2/22/10 @ 11:37 am

    Great Post Gary. Incredible how many people dont secure their network still.

    Dave
    2/26/10 @ 9:43 am

    Help! What did I do wrong? I listened without interruption to your video on wireless security. I played it again a few minutes later, and it stopped every 10 seconds. Very annoying, so I didn’t listen again.

    Can you tell me what went wrong?

    Thanks

      2/26/10 @ 9:48 am

      Sounds like you may have problem with your connection? Were you watching on the Web or in iTunes? Just quit whatever you were using (Safari or iTunes) and try again.

    shawn sablan
    3/18/11 @ 2:05 am

    can you help me set up a network for the many devices that jump on, i.e. macbook, iphone, ipad, wife’s net-book, her android, the playstation, apple TV…
    it seems as if at times there is an error with the IP address?? which I can only guess means I have too many things trying to get on the network, so I went out and bought the Linksys E4200 but the basic easy set up doesn’t seem like it will fix my issue. I think I saw somewhere that I should assign each device a IP address??? what do you think?

      3/18/11 @ 6:25 am

      You don’t need to assign each device an IP address. There should be more than enough. Set it up so it assigns dynamic IP addresses for each device and only uses one from your Internet provider. Consult the instructions that came with the Linksys for setup. It should work fine. I can’t really give specific advice, since I don’t have that box, but it should be able to handle what you have and much much more. Call your ISP if you have to for more help.

        shawn sablan
        3/18/11 @ 5:01 pm

        Thanks Gary! Ya da Bomb!

    Corrina
    5/18/12 @ 12:50 am

    Hi Gary,
    I have a MacBook Pro but my wireless at home is not a Mac Airport (my one at work is). My computer just automatically scans for an airport and won’t even show the tabs up the top (wireless etc…).
    Help! What can I do?

      5/18/12 @ 6:46 am

      Macs can connect to any standard Wi-Fi network. It doesn’t have to be an Airport device. When at home, go to System Preferences, Network and look for your home network. There is where you can turn on the menubar icon for wifi too.

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