Understanding the Settings of Your Router to Protect Your Family

Dec 19, 2013

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If you have broadband Internet coming into your home and more than one device that uses it, there is a good chance you have a router. This device could allow for computers and wireless devices to connect to the Internet, and it could be used to govern the actual activity of anyone in your home. By taking the time to understand the settings in the router, you can have a great deal of control over how everyone connecting to your network uses the Internet. What kinds of settings should you learn how to use?

1. Security Keys - Depending on the model of router you have, you could be allowed to set WEP, WPA, WPA2 and other passkeys in order to reduce wireless access to your router. The method you use will determine its strength. Most of today's routers will offer the WPA passphrase which is more secure than the original WEP key. Assigning this phrase will help protect against nearby individuals or other unknown devices from hopping onto your wireless network.

2. MAC Authentication - Most routers today have a MAC authentication or filter capability. Every network connection uses a device that has a MAC or physical address. This address appears similar to "00:11:22:33:aa." The address is also unique to that particular device. By setting your MAC filter to only allow those specific addresses, you greatly reduce the number of nearby connections to only those you enter in. This information can easily be found on the various devices you own and wish to access your connection.

3. Access Restrictions - Here is where the control over the Internet comes from. The settings located in the "access restrictions" area of your router will allow you to dictate what times the Internet is available, to what computers, and filtering out specific keywords from access. For instance, you could set up the router to deny access to your children's computer from 11:00 pm at night through 8:00 am in the morning while removing the word, "porn" from any address on the Internet during the time the Internet is active.

Some of these access restriction areas can become quite elaborate depending on the style and brand of your router. Linksys WRT320N routers can deny ports, applications, keywords and exact addresses simultaneously giving you control over many aspects of how the Internet works in your home. If you don't want Netflix being accessed by specific computers or devices, you can simply apply this setting to deny the application from operating. This could even prevent access to the site through smart TVs and phones.

4. Port Denial - By learning how to operate the firewall settings in your router, you can deny specific ports from accessing the Internet. This includes chat programs, email, games and more. If you find the port number for the specific application, you can deny it just as well as you could deny Internet addresses. You can also deny these applications from running for only specific users. For instance, you could deny your children from sending email on pop3 applications such as Outlook on port 110 while allowing it for your own computer.

5. Other Filters - Many routers have the capacity to filter out various programming such as Java and ActiveX. As malware and attacks are common from these elements, some Internet users prefer to operate with these filters enabled. The problem is, Java and ActiveX are quite common forms of programming that are used in a vast amount of popular websites. Enabling these filters could greatly restrict the areas you currently visit. 

Some of these filters could even include excluding cookies from being developed on your machine. Unfortunately, this is another popular aspect of web-browsing that may limit your capacities online. Cookies are usually used to save personal and log in information. With these disabled, you may have to change personal settings within the website each time you visit.

How to Learn these Settings in Detail

For those that wish to learn in greater detail of what these security settings in your router can do, there are many sites that can detail each to help you understand them. Simply entering in a Google search for the setting you wish to change could reveal a great deal of websites dedicated to helping novice and professional users alike. You may even find a few online courses specifically for this safety feature that you could take.

Taking the time to learn how your router works could save you a great deal of trouble later on. If there are specific sites or search terms you don't want your children accessing, the firewall settings is where you want to modify this control. Take the time to learn your hardware and take control of your own Internet connection.