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I have not secured my wifi connection at home. Is it risky? If I need to secure it are there easy to follow instructions some where? if some thing goes wrong can I easily reset it? I am using LinkSys router.

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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

It's risky for a number of reasons, including:

  • Others can ramp up your internet bill by utilizing a large portion of your bandwidth (downloading torrents, etc)
  • Others can use your network to attack other people's networks or performing illegal activity with the connection
  • If intruders are in the same workgroup as you, they can see your file shares (most people leave it on default)
  • If you leave your router password default, they can get in there and open up more network facets for themselves if you do secure certain aspects later on.
  • Since an intruder will be on your LAN, they can audit your other machines for security holes and potentially gain access to your personal data.

...and many other reasons.

To secure it, simply set up a password and an encryption scheme (avoid WPA and WEP, they are easily cracked). I'd recommend using WPA2. Since the router is in your posession, you can easily hit the reset switch at any time (a small button usually located on the back or bottom of the appliance). Keep in mind resetting the hardware will usually erase your configuration, so I'd back that up once you're comfortable with it.

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John, is there a good website that could show me step by step on how to secure my wifi connection on linksys router? –  dotnet-practitioner Jul 13 '10 at 3:42
    
Would securing my wifi connection negatively impact my internet phone operation? –  dotnet-practitioner Jul 13 '10 at 3:43
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Don't forget a BIG reason, you could be charged with other peoples illegal activity. (e.g. copyright infringement, spam, child porn, harassing emails) "It's an open network" has proven to be an unreliable defense in some areas/cases. –  Chris Nava Jul 13 '10 at 4:12
    
Its actually against the law in India to have an unsecured Wifi connection. –  Sathya Jul 13 '10 at 18:13
    
@Chris that's what I was trying to get at with point 2, I'll add that in for clarity, thanks :) –  John T Jul 13 '10 at 19:49
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The reasons John T gave are good reasons to secure you router. It does depend on where you live, though. If you live in a semi-rural area you will have few neighbours that have the ability to even detect your wireless network.

Still, it is simple to secure the network, costs you nothing, and you'll learn something new!

You can find several videos on YouTube where people actually talk you through the process. Here's one to get your started (and the related videos on the side will point you to others): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhNAsnqnHWc

I wasn't a big fan - I thought he was using much too technical language for his target audience, but he gets it going.

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You should always secure your wireless for a great many reasons. "John T" already posted a great list, unfortunately often people still feel that these are the type of things that would never happen to them.

Sometimes real world examples work best and here are two stories about people who probably didn't think it would happen to them either:

Both articles relate stories of innocent people who were investigated for participating in child pornography. In both cases, it was someone nearby connected to their unsecured WiFi that was found to be committing the illegal activity.

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Can you incorporate some of the points from that article in your answer? In case the article goes away. –  slm Mar 30 '13 at 1:21
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