When you move to a new home, setting up an Internet connection is probably high on your to-do list. Once you find a suitable Internet service provider and schedule a time to set up your connectivity, you need to begin the process of securing your account from nefarious activity and unnecessary problems. The following guide provides you with a primer on essential tasks you need to perform to protect your Internet access.
Hide Your Wi-Fi
If your ISP provides you with a wireless router, or if you set up one yourself after Internet access becomes available in your house, you need to protect your Wi-Fi from outsiders.
This is especially important if your account has a cap on monthly bandwidth. If your Wi-Fi is unprotected, you open yourself up to bandwidth leeching when unauthorized individuals connect to your network and begin downloading large files like movies or even illegal content.
When you set up your wireless router using the software that came with the device, you will be able to choose between WEP, WPA and WPA2 encryption. Make sure to set the security to WPA2, currently the most secure protocol to protect your Wi-Fi. The better protection makes it harder for someone to crack your Wi-Fi access password.
You should also change the default name of your network and hide it from the list of wireless networks you can view in your area. When you use your Wi-Fi detection app on your computer or mobile device, you will be able to see all of the Wi-Fi networks in your immediate vicinity.
Your network name, formally called an SSID (Service Set Identifier), does not have to show up in that publicly available list. Check the documentation of your router or call your ISP's customer service department for help on hiding your SSID.
Create Guest Logins and Restrict Devices
When you have visitors to your house who need Internet access, do not give them the master password to log in to your Wi-Fi network. Use your router's software to create a guest login. This keeps your guests from accessing your router's settings and makes it easier for you to monitor bandwidth and Internet usage by user.
You can also limit the devices that can connect to your network. Your router's software will include a section that lists a unique identifier for every device connected to your network. This list, called a MAC filter, can be configured to limit Internet access to certain devices including computers, tablets and smartphones.
Any device that tries to connect to your network, via Wi-Fi or an Ethernet connection, but not on the MAC list will be denied access.
Install Parental Controls
If you have children who regularly use computers or have mobile devices, you should install parental controls to keep tabs on their surfing and downloading activity.
While your kids will not enjoy being under your watchful eye online, you will be doing them a favor by possibly protecting them from online predators, malware downloaded from disreputable websites and content not safe for children. Some programs also enable you to monitor email accounts and restrict access to online games.
Your ISP may offer free software for parental controls and walk you through setting up the program. There are also free, reputable parental software programs available.
With parental controls on your Internet connection, your kids will not be able to download large files without your knowledge or spend too much time hogging your bandwidth on video and music streaming websites.
Keep Your Router's Firmware Updated
You can avoid some problems with your Internet access by keeping your router's firmware up to date. Manufacturers of routers provide periodic updates to provide more features and security enhancements.
Your router's software may include an update section so you can upgrade the device with ease. If not, you can download updated firmware directly from the router manufacturer's website.
Look on the router's label for a device model and version number. Use that information to find the right software version for your router in the download section of the manufacturer's website.
Visit a site like http://www.rtconline.com to learn more about Internet service provider options that might be available to you.