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by Phil Ball

Q. A friend was visiting and was able get his laptop connected to my WiFi without my help. Isn't there a password protecting the router? I didn’t set it up myself.

A. Did you know that there is a password for your wireless router that you must change to keep outsiders from accessing your network? Your network is vulnerable to neighbors or even people driving by. This is especially important if you use your computer for online banking or online shopping where personal data is transmitted.

Your router is a device which transmits a wireless signal to computers and other devices throughout your home so they can connect to the internet. All routers are set up with a default username and password that is easily accessed by anyone and so it should be changed to something that only you and family members know. You can easily find this default information by looking up your router model online or using your user manual. Since it is easy for you to find, it is easy for anyone to find. Using it, they can get into your network and access your personal data or use your network for nefarious purposes.

It is vital that you change this password or you are vulnerable. You need to check what kind of router you have. Many people have a combined cable modem and router supplied by their ISP and in this case, the information you need is available from your Internet Service Provider's (ISP) support website. If you have a wireless router that was not supplied by your ISP, you need to go to the website of the manufacturer of your router and search for information about how to change the password. You will be asked for a user name and password. This varies from brand to brand but usually the user name is either admin or left blank, and the password is admin or user or password. (See how easy this is to figure out?) This is the case for pretty much every major router out there. Change the password to a good, hard-to-crack password. You may need to enter the default password, then enter and confirm the new password and you're set. With a strong new password, you are now much safer.

Published: Courier 7/26/15 - Page 12A