Benefits and Risks of a Wireless Network

Many consumers and small businesses use wireless (Wi-Fi) networks to enable their laptops and other wireless devices to access the Internet. Wi-Fi networks generally include a wireless “router” connected to a broadband Internet service via a modem that is attached to the cable or telephone network. Sometimes the wireless router and the modem are integrated into one device.
While Wi-Fi networks provide many benefits, an unprotected network can result in unauthorized use and potential harm unless certain steps are taken. In some cases, unauthorized users may be able to access your private information, view the content of transmissions, download unlawful content using your network or infect computers with viruses or spyware. Unauthorized users may also cause harm beyond your computer or network, such as sending spam, spyware or viruses to others, and the activity can be traced back to your network.

How to Secure a Wireless Network

The following tips can help secure a Wi-Fi network against unauthorized access. Consult the owner’s manual that came with your wireless router for specific instructions on performing the following steps. Manuals are often available on the manufacturer’s website. At the bottom of this page you will find links to product manuals from some of the most popular manufacturers, and links to how-to videos produced by the Federal Trade Commission.