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Your home wifi could be unsafe – but you can fix it!

With more PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones in our homes than ever before, wireless internet is the only practical solution to getting them all online. But with digital threats getting more advanced every year, is your wireless security dangerously out of date?

If you’ve had your wireless router for over five years, the answer is yes. This is because the old wifi security technology (WEP) offers almost as little protection as having no password at all.

There are three security protocols for wifi: WEP, WPA and WPA2. Unfortunately, older routers only come with WEP, and some of the newer ones are still set to use it by default even if they have better protection available (I know, it’s a bit silly).

If your router were using WEP, it would take an attacker under a minute to get connected to your network. And it’s even worse than that, because there is free software available on the internet to do the hard work, so literally anyone can use your WEP-protected network. Scary.

How can I tell if I’m on WEP?

Luckily, it’s not too difficult to check what type of wifi security you’re running. If you’re already connected to your home wifi, just follow the steps below (for Windows):

1) Open the Control Panel (On Windows XP/Vista/7, that means clicking on the Start icon then Control Panel, on Windows 8 hold the Windows Key on your keyboard and press X, then choose “Control Panel”)

2) Choose to view the Control Panel as “Small Items” and click “Network and Sharing Center”

3) Choose “Change Adapter Settings” on the left-hand side

4) Right-click on your wireless internet connection and choose “Status”

5) Choose “Wireless Properties”

6) Click the “Security” tab

7) Read what it says in the “Security type” tab

If the box says WPA2, you’re on the safest type on wireless security – good job! If it says WPA, you’re a lot safer than WEP, but things could be better. If you’re on WEP, it’s time to worry.

If this doesn’t work for you, you can also download wifi-scanning apps for iPhone and Android, which will also tell you the network information. Just make sure you’re connected to your wifi and not just your mobile phone provider’s network!

How to change from WEP

Unfortunately, there’s no universal method for changing your router from WEP to WPA – each router brand has a completely different interface. And on the oldest routers, WEP will be the only option.

If you’re feeling adventurous, search for your router’s brand (and model number) on Google – you’ll also need to add in your internet provider’s name, as that can also alter things. Look for a tutorial regarding how for change your router’s settings.

The process can be a bit fiddly, so we’d suggest this is only for the confident or for someone with a tech-savvy friend.

Alternatively, try contacting your internet provider and ask for an updated router, stating that WEP isn’t secure enough. While some providers will turn you down, and others might charge you, there’s also a chance you’ll get a new router – one with proper security.

You could also buy a new router, but before taking that step, you can most likely shop around for a new internet provider, who will give you a brand new router for free.

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