For students and faculty members that insist upon installing their own routers in their dorm rooms and offices, there are some precautions that should be taken to help avoid errors and unauthorized usage. The great thing about most routers that are available to the public is that they can broadcast in a number of configuration protocols. Meaning multiple types of computers can access if they have the right information. The downside of using routers is if not properly set-up, multiple people can now access your internet connection and possibly put you at risk of getting illegal download warnings, lack of wireless bandwidth, and puts you at risk for getting viruses upon your unsecured hotspot. So, what should you do?
When setting up a wireless hotspot for yourself make sure to change the administrator’s account information. On many, especially Linksys routers, the default administrator’s account information is no user name and admin as the password and this leaves you at risk of people taking over your router. Change the name and the password to something only you know. In my personal opinion it’s best to change the password a few times a year to ensure others are not trying to access your router for free internet.
Next, TURN OFF the DHCP configuration! This is especially important for the students living in the dorms. The DHCP only causes the network to slow down by handing out multiple IP addresses to anything trying to connect. The safest way is to allow certain people to use your router by assigning their own IP address and saving yourself the headache later. This also helps ResNet pinpoint what might be happening to your network access if they do not have to fight with a DHCP signal interfering.
Change the SSID (Service Set Identifier) on the router. You should be prompted to do so while configuring the initial set-up. If you leave the default setting, you can allow a person to figure out important information for hacking into your router. Many such people only need to know the name of your equipment and a little time to successfully take over.
Finally, password protect your wireless through the WEP Encryption. This does not prevent hackers, but makes them work for access. If possible also turn on the WPA Encryption to force more protection upon the router. You can also enable MAC address filtering, which takes some time, but only allows computers you grant access to the router to use your internet.
When in doubt, ask for help, ResNet and Help Desk consultants willing to assist.