Now that you’re all settled in at your new place (and in possession of the hard-earned knowledge that metal and microwaves don’t mix), it’s time to get your internet up and running. The process of getting the internet set up and running is fairly straightforward (just make sure you do a bit of research on all the possible providers before committing to one – you might find a rather excellent deal in the process), so I won’t bother walking you through it. Instead, I’ll go through the more difficult process of setting up your router.
Believe it or not, it’s actually not as simple as just plugging it in. Here’s a no-nonsense, general-purpose guide for getting your router up and running.
Once you’ve got it plugged in via ethernet to your modem, there’s a few things you should do.
Accessing Your Router
You can generally access your router at the address 192.168.0.1. The username and password will be set to the default values for your system, and you can find a list here. There should be a sticker on the bottom of your router (or an identifying number somewhere on it) telling you the model number of the system. You can usually change your router’s default username and password by going to “other settings.”
Change Your Wireless Settings
Most routers have a section for changing your wireless settings on the main menu. It’s pretty straightforward. The wireless encryption key is the password users have to use to connect to the network, and the SSID is the name that’s attached to your network – it’s what people see when they try to connect to the network.
There are generally two different types of encryption- WEP and WPA. WEP is pretty low-security. It consists of five, thirteen, sixteen, or twenty nine characters and requires users to type in the key in order to connect. WEP networks are very easy to break into (via packet sniffing – more on that later) if the right person knows how to do it, but chances are if you’re just running a residential network, WEP might suffice.
WPA and WPA 2 are far more secure with more complex security keys and in the case of the latter, the ability to ‘cycle through’ a number of pre-set encryption codes. In addition you’re able to copy the network key over to a flash drive and use said flash drive to connect systems to the network. The problem with these two types of encryption is that older devices can’t really understand them. If you’ve got a wireless card that’s more than a year or two old, it might run into a few problems with WPA/WPA2.
Some routers also allow you to change the frequency of the network. Generally, I’d recommend keeping it at the default. Of you change the frequency to Wireless-N/5.0 Ghz(the fastest wireless speed possible), older wireless cards may be unable to connect.
Forward Your Ports
You need to forward your ports in order for certain programs to run on your network. You can find an excellent guide to port forwarding here.
Blocking Users and Enabling Security Settings
If there’s been someone piggybacking on your network, you’ll want to block them. If your wireless encryption isn’t keeping people out as much as you’d like, you can enable MAC filtering. Doing this will prevent anyone from connecting to your network unless their MAC address is on the list of allowed devices. Since no two computers have the same MAC address, enabling MAC filtering will set your network up so that only the people you wish to allow a connection have one. A bit of a pain, but a really good security measure even if people can ‘fake’ the MAC address.
You can also set up your wireless network so that it doesn’t actually publicly broadcast. Users will need to know both the SSID and the encryption key in order to connect.
Finally, many routers have a firewall attached to them. This does induce an added layer of security, but it also makes opening ports and setting up network tunnels something of a royal pain. Honestly? I’m personally of the opinion that router firewalls are more trouble than they’re worth. If you don’t foresee anyone directly targeting your router with an attack, you can probably disable the firewall.