Priority #1: Install a Hardware Firewall to Protect Your Network
Using a hardware firewall, even if you only have one PC, is the best way to protect your network from outsiders who want to do damage to you or your computer. Nowadays, there are a host of companies that sell these devices and many of them are wireless routers now, too.
A firewall places a network security layer between you and the Internet. Its job is to keep out hackers, spammers, malicious code, and other Internet nasties. The main feature is that they block your IP address from prying eyes and in fact make your IP invisible by doing Network Address Translation, or NAT.
What this does is take the IP that your Internet Service Provider gives you, which is a public IP address, and converts it into a private IP, effectively making your PC (your network of one) invisible to the outside world.
A couple of things you'll want to do once the device is out of the box and connected to your ISP (cable or dsl, in most cases) and your PC:
- If a wireless router, change the SSID setting to "do not broadcast"
- Change the SSID name to something (anything) other than the default (hackers know these default names and it becomes rather trivial to connect to your network)
- Change the default password and admin name. See the above point.
One of the best personal firewalls is
ZoneAlarm Secure Wireless Router (save $50 for a limited time).
This firewall is made by one of the best computer security companies in the world. It's packed full of features and comes at a value price.
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