Why you should protect your network with a router

Routers are commonly used by two or more computers to share a single source of internet service. Consequently, many a person assumes that a router is not needed if only one computer is connected to the Internet. You should deploy a router even if you have only one computer since the firewall built into routers protects your computer from port scanners that seek to find openings for attack.

Two features are important when shopping for a router, namely Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) and Network Address Translation (NAT). Stateful Packet Inspection keeps track of outbound requests or more specifically, packets, in order to determine legitimate inbound packets. Network Address Translation masks your internal network while making it possible to connect multiple computers using a single public IP address.

While deploying a router can protect your internal network, it can also exposed it to dangers if your router is not configured properly. It is supremely important to change the router’s default username and password. Furthermore, you should change the Service Set Identifier (SSID) and prevent the router from broadcasting it. While the previous measure can make it somewhat harder to discover your wireless network, it can be easily defeated by a skilled attacker. These steps are necessary to prevent intruders from fiddling with your settings and breaking into your network.

It is equally important to use the strongest Wi-Fi encryption. It is recommended that you harden your wireless network with Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), AES encryption and MAC address filtering. Note that MAC address filtering can be easily defeated by spoofing it. I recommend WPA2 since WPA has been compromised. Failure to harden your network can expose you to identity theft, and thus compromise your privacy.

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