Your home's wired and wireless Internet connections should be as secure as possible. All home wireless (WiFi) networks should be password protected with the strongest encryption available. Your Internet connection should be secured with OpenDNS, which is a simple, powerful, and free solution that helps parents protect all devices on their network from inappropriate web sites.
Your home network is like an on-ramp. It's the place that lets you get onto the Internet super-highway. If you're serious about online safety, then you need to make sure that on-ramp—your network—is secure so that only the right kind of traffic passes through it. Securing your home network is like putting a traffic cop at the on-ramp. That cop checks and guide all the traffic that passes through. It lets the good traffic through while stopping the bad.
Let's face it, if you're either a busy or non-technical family, the very thought of securing your home network probably sounds daunting. It's something you need to do. The great news is that it's easy to do and free. The benefit is protecting your computers from outside intruders or prying neighbors. We'll outline the two primary areas: 1) Securing your wireless network (if you have one) and 2) adding content filtering and fraudulent web site protection.
Wireless (WiFi) networks are great—especially at home. There are no wires to run; they're easy to use; and they are very convenient. But let's be honest: putting a password on your WiFi network is a pain and many of us don't bother. However, your WiFi network is the one place where you absolutely need a password. In fact, a WiFi network in your home should be password protected with both a strong password—using a combination of capital letters, numbers, and characters like [email protected]#$%&—and the strongest security encryption possible (as of this writing, that means using WPA2 encryption). If you have a WiFi network setup in your home, then check the user manual for your wireless router. If your WiFi network was setup by your Internet provider, then confirm the encryption settings and password strength.
Wireless signals can travel quite a distance and go through walls. Just because you have secured your WiFi connection doesn't mean that there aren't other unsecured WiFi connections available from your neighbors' homes. Look for any unsecured networks that are coming from your neighbors' homes. All wireless computers and mobile devices will allow you to search for available wireless networks. Networks that are password-protected will show up with a lock. If you do see any wireless networks available from your home, talk with your neighbors with them and ask them to secure their wireless networks. They may not even know that their network is unsecured or fully understand the risks.
Now that you've secured your WiFi network, there's one more thing to do: add content filtering and fraudulent web site protection through a service called OpenDNS. OpenDNS (www.OpenDNS.com) is a service that helps protect devices connected to your home's Internet connection. It's is used at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, in many schools and corporations around the country, and has been featured in several well-known publications. Think of OpenDNS as that traffic cop we mentioned above. Once it's setup, OpenDNS analyzes the web sites you're attempting to access and determines whether or not the content on those sites is OK or too risqué.
OpenDNS is a great solution for your home network: 1) It's free for home use. 2) It's super-easy to setup and use. 3) It's incredibly powerful and works on both WiFi and wired networks. 4) It works on devices connected your network—including mobile, computers, and gaming. 5) It provides an additional layer of security to standard parental controls. 6) It includes anti-fraud and anti-phishing protection. This protects you from fraudulent web sites. 7) OpenDNS provides easy-to-read reports about the Internet usage and sites visited from your home. You can signup for OpenDNS at: http://www.opendns.com/home-solutions
Remember that safety starts at home—your home! By following these two simple suggestions, you can significantly add both reasonable security and content filtering to your home network. No system is perfect. Having multiple systems work together is always best. Thus, if you want to maximize the safety of your home's Internet connection, securing your wireless network and signing up and configuring OpenDNS are the first two places to start.