Home Network Security Revealed
Posted by Paul Wilcox on: 2006-09-10 17:53:00
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Some home computer users have become experts without knowing it. Just a short time ago terms such as "wireless" and "router" were only known by computer professionals and experts. Not so any more. These days switches, hubs, Ethernet cards, firewalls, routers, and other buzzwords related to networking have become common in many homes.
Vendors have created new sources of income for themselves by making the installation of network devices cost efficient and easy. This is great value to home PC users by allowing more than one home computer to share resources with others without having to move the files physically or having to move the connections on printers. The entire family can now use one network to connect to the Internet, many times without having to drag wires all around the house.
The one thing that home users are lacking is education is how to secure themselves from hackers.
However, there is no need to panic. Settings that come from the vendor are very good. Now, here's a bit of guidance...
A common acronym for computer experts is "RTFM". You can just ignore the middle letter for now. The first letter stands for "read", the T for "the" and the last letter stands for "Manual". Doing this will give you information about standard settings that are useful about configuration. Don't forget to reread it.
PORTS FOR ROUTERS
The first thing that you should do is change your password. You should also rename the account for the administrator. This is because the next person who bought the same computer model as you did has the same information and might not be as trustworthy as you would like to think.
A standard port of HTTP is Port 80. This port is needed if you plan on browsing the Internet. A port is number for the network that is used by software to keep track of Internet traffic. You'll need to have this port open for IP addresses and any ranges that are going out of your computer. By doing this only those computers you know can generate any Internet traffic on your home network.
If you get your IP address in an automatic fashion the above tip will won't be useful for you. For example, most use DHCP. However, there are other service providers who will let you buy one static IP address for the router. It's this address that should have access going out to the Internet.
But just why should you care about traffic that is going out? For the simple reason that you might infect other computers. This is why you need to practice networking that is safe so that you don't spread any viruses. If you have Internet access that is wireless you won't always know who is on your same network. And even if you're not at home anyone can sneak in through your network.
You'll need to have Port 80 open for all traffic coming in from the Internet. Or you might want to track only those websites that have an IP address. This might be impossible though.
You need to open up Port 25 for outgoing mail if you're going to be using an email client that is a desktop application rather then being browser based. As well, you'll have to open up port 110 for incoming mail.
And most of the time, that will be all....
If you're using a client that is a desktop FTP or manual (both of which should be avoided if you can due to poor security) you'll need other ports. Most of the time these port numbers are easy to find. Try to limit their use. The general rule for network security is that you should keep as many ports as you can closed and only use those that you really need to use.
The above may sound a bit like the settings in a firewall. This is because firewalls and routers have some of the same functions. A firewall will allow or prevent Internet traffic while a router will direct it.
There's a bit more that you have to do if you have a wireless network. Default settings will sometimes let anyone in range of the network have access. This means that not only someone in your household will be on the Internet, the neighbour across the street will as well. And this includes the hacker.
What you need to do is lock down the wireless network. You can learn how to do this by reading the manual and then configuring your passwords as well as any other security features that are included.
You don't need to devote your life to becoming a security or network expert just so that you keep your resources safe. However, when you're connected to the Internet through a router there is more risk than if you were connected through dial-up or as a single user.
Take some time today to learn what you can about network security so that you don't spend that time after your network is broken into.
Paul Wilcox writes about internet security and other related topics for the Internet Cyber Security website. Get more helpful information about protecting yourself against online threats at http://www.internetcybersecurity.com
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