Many computer users today are connected to the Internet via an always on connection; many of those users leave their computers on 24/7. Doing so allows automatic downloading and updating of operating systems and other software you may be running. This has proved to be a good strategy for staying up to date on virus and security programs. There is however the issue of hackers or others gaining access to your personal information.
Fortunately there is a relatively inexpensive piece of hardware called a router that, when set up correctly, will make your computer virtually invisible. Routers are typically used to set up and control networks. These can be very large or very small networks, in fact the Internet is really just a very large network and it too is controlled by routers.
The router in a typical network is placed between the cable or phone modem and the computers and other devices being controlled. Information from online flows to the router and is then routed to the appropriate computer, it also takes information from the various computers and sends it out to the online world. In addition the router will control the flow of information within the network, such as a document to be printed on a printer that is hooked up to another computer, or possibly to retrieve a document scanned on a network scanner.
These routers can either be hardwired or wireless or of combination of both. The router itself has its own IP address (kind of like a street address) that will be found on the Internet which identifies it. If that router has all of the correct security set up, that is where the flow of information from the Internet stops, the router actually appears to someone surfing the Internet to be a computer and the end of the line. Even a single computer can have a router between the modem and the computer, in fact it would be set up the same way, and with all of the proper security in place it would appear to be the end of the line.
Installing a router right out of the box with no security set up will stymie the most amateur hackers, setting proper user codes and passwords will stop more, using the proper encryption array will stop more, and there are more settings that will stop even the most determined. All of these setting can be made in the software supplied with your router, what may be lacking it a clear explanation of why some settings and how they are defined is important.
Early in the development of the Internet becoming available to the general public, the need for security protocols was becoming apparent. In addition to the general public, retail and government entities were keeping more and more information in data bases, and they needed security. The first online security protocol was named WEP and went into wide usage, unfortunately it was hacked, and the info on how to hack it was spread all over the internet. That protocol is still in use today, even by some retail and government entities, and can by hacked in less than a minute. The next version call WAP was rolled out, but first it was released to the online community with the challenge to “break it, if you can”, that was about 8 – 10 years ago. To date is has not been broken. Most router software allows you to choose which encryption array to use. This exemplifies the importance of knowing how to set you security up.
For an excellent video covering all aspects of router security go to this link http://www.labrats.tv click shows, look for # 70.Windows Lockdown!: Your XP and Vista Guide Against Hacks, Attacks, and Other Internet Mayhem (Absolute Beginner’s Guide)