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Wireless Security

Wireless Router Security

With the benefits of going wireless comes a concern - how do I secure my wireless n router? If your wireless router or modem router is broadcasting your information around your home or office, you want to be certain that you're the only person who can get at it.

You don't need to worry! The good news is that all routers and modem routers that ship today have wireless security built in, and in many wireless routers you have a choice over which type of security you want to use. Below is a brief overview of the different types and what they mean.

WEP - (Wired Equivalent Privacy) is the oldest of the wireless security standards you're likely to find. It was introduced in 1999 and was intended to provide security levels similar to a wired network (hence the name). However, in 2001 some weaknesses were discovered in the implementation and formulae used by WEP and so now just a few years later it can be broken with the right equipment in just a few minutes. As it's the oldest security method it is useful for compatibility between different manufacturers equipment as pretty much all equipment supports it, and it will still deter casual snooping. But if you really want to protect your information you don't want to use this.

WPA - (Wi-Fi Protected Access) was created to fix the flaws in WEP and was designed to work with older equipment. It's pretty good at this and most routers, modem routers, access points and wireless cards will work with it. There are two types of WPA Enterprise and Personal. Enterprise is pretty serious stuff and if you need to know about that, you'll probably have an IT department. Personal is a good standard and works well across a wide-range of routers and wireless networking equipment - you won't be able to buy anything now that doesn't support this. However it is not quite as secure as WPA2!

WPA2 - is an enhancement on WPA and uses the AES security code to increase security levels. It is the most secure of the wireless router standards, but because of the stronger encryption/decryption algorithms used, on some earlier routers it could cause a very slight slow-down. However, this is no longer really a problem and as a default choice this is the one to pick.

From March 2006 WPA2 support has been built into all officially-recognised wireless equipment. You may sometimes see TKIP, PKS, or AES mentioned with WPA or WPA2 - don't worry these are just different flavours of the same thing indicating extra levels of security or how easy the kit is to set-up. It's the WPA or WPA2 that you're really interested in.

So to sum up, all wireless n routers onward should be completely secure if you use WPA2. If you're looking to buy a wireless n router, consult our wireless router reviews to make sure that it supports all of the above security standards. And then you are free to choose which standard you want to use when you router arrives.

Wi-Fi protected Set-up (WPS) is a simple way of setting up the security on a router, only if your other network equipment supports it. It still uses one of the above security standards.

Finally - do make sure that you make a note of or can remember the security key you use to set-up your WEP, WPA or WPA2 security. You will need it for your other equipment to connect to your network or if you need to make changes to your router wirelessly.

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