If you use the Internet from home there is a very good chance you use a Wi-Fi network. Have you ever wondered whether your Wi-Fi router is secure or couldn’t understand why your network speed was slow? When using Wi-Fi you should make sure that you protect your network and make sure there is no interference from other Wi-Fi networks. I use a FREE network scanner called InSSIDer to do this job. It works with Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows XP.
Download InSSIDer from here and then launch and click the Start button.The program will scan for 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands that are in the range of your network. It provides the following useful information:
- MAC – Media Access Code – this is a unique ‘identifier’ which allows a device to connect to a Wi-Fi router
- SSID – this is the name of the router
- RSSI – Radio Signal Strength Indicator should be between -50db & -40db*
- Channel – this is the RF frequency which normally is in the range of 1-11
- Vendor – this is the name of the router vendor
- Privacy – this shows whether a router is encrypted and the level of encryption used
- Max Rate – this is the maximum router bandwidth in Mbs
*A lower RSSI number is better.
Secure and optimize your Wi-Fi router
Using the data provided from InSSIDer I suggest you:
- Use RSSI to relocate your laptop/PC or router to improve the signal strength
- Use Channel to pick a new frequency that’s a distance a way from your neighbours Wi-Fi router
- Use Privacy to set your Wi-Fi security levels: WPA2-TKIP, WPA2-AES or WPA2-CCMP
- Adjust the Max Rate – you should be able to change this on your Wi-Fi router
- Use MAC filtering – Turn this on – just add the device MAC address and name**
**This adds another layer of security but if you use tcpdump or ngrep in Linux you will be able to see the unencrypted MAC address which travels between your laptop/PC and Wi-Fi router. So it’s important you make sure you at least use WPA2 – not WEP or WPA encryption.
Alternatively if you are using a new router and it has ‘Wi-Fi Protected Setup’ I suggest you use this. All you have to do is turn on the router and load Windows 7 (it only works with Windows 7) and the router will configure your laptop/PC wireless privacy and optimization settings.