Who’s on your network?

Home networkWorried that people you don’t know might be connecting to your network? Concerned that the kids are browsing the Web when they should be in bed? Don’t just sit there worrying – do something about it! A home wireless network is incredibly convenient. That convenience, however comes at a price, not least being unable to tell who might be connecting to your home network and what they are up to. When everything was done with cables it was all so easy as, without a wire, nobody could connect to your router making it hard to sneak in and use it un-noticed. Likewise, if you wanted to stop the kids surfing after hours you simply “pulled the plug” at the router end and that was it for the night. Wi-Fi, however, adds a cloak of invisibility, which means having to get a little bit creative and delve into some of the more advanced router options to keep a lid on network use. But then, some of the simplest precautions can be the most effective, such as managing the security password needed to connect to your router in the first place

Pulling the Wi-Fi plug

It’s easy. When the kids need access, and you’re there to keep an eye on them, you can change your password to something they know, otherwise it can be set back to something secret. Of course that can be a bit tedious so check if your router will let you configure more than one wireless network (referred to as an SSID), each with its own security settings including a password. Furthermore look for time and date controls to limit when each network can be used and setup one tightly-controlled SSID for the kids and another, more relaxed network for the grown-ups. Most routers also let you manage access using the MAC address hardwired into every network device, typically, by blocking connections unknown addresses. This can take a while to setup, but it isn’t difficult and is a very easy way of preventing neighbours or passers-by using your router to connect to the Internet without your knowledge, even if they manage to crack your password.

Making sure

Another common option is the ability to see a list of devices actively connected to and using your router. Some can even log this information so that you don’t have to sit watching for intruders all the time. Logging and other basic tools are to be found on most  free routers bundled with broadband these days, although you may have to poke around in the Web management interface to find them. In some cases, however, you will have to upgrade to something better to get them but that’s not as hard as it sounds and you can also take the opportunity to add other extras. Extras like the ability to monitor and manage your network remotely, available on the latest D-Link Cloud routers which, with the free mydlink smartphone app, make it easy to check who’s on your network and make sure the kids are in bed no matter where you are.

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