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Securing Your Wireless Network in Windows 7 and Vista

This document pertains to HP Notebook PCs with Windows 7 and Vista.
Wireless networks offer consumers portable internet access on their notebook PC. Wireless network security has limited security capabilities and HP customers should understand that wireless network is subject to known and documented security vulnerabilities and weaknesses.
If you have not set up your wireless area network, see
Unlike wired networks, wireless networks use radio signals that broadcast in the local area. Other wireless devices can detect unprotected signals and either connect to your network or capture information being sent across it without your permission. For example, a network set up in your home might be accessible by your next-door neighbor.
Protect your wireless network
Consider the following security measures when setting up your wireless network.
Set security on router used to connect home network and internet
Wireless routers are devices that can send information faster, and usually have a built in firewall and other features that can keep your network secure. Manufacturers use a pre-defined, default user name and password on their devices. To prevent others from accessing your router without your permission, you must change the default administrator user name and password when you setup the modem and router on your network.
Change the default name of the network, service set identifier (SSID). It will help distinguish which network is yours and to not overlap with another network also using the default SSID. You can protect your network by turning off the broadcast feature on the router.
Most networks broadcast the name by default, telling any computer nearby that your network is available. By closing the network, other computers are less likely to know that your network exists. Check the information that came with your router to learn how to change user names and passwords.
If your network is closed and the SSID is not broadcast, you will need to know or remember the SSID in order to connect new devices to the network. Write the SSID down and store it in a secure place before closing your network.
Work behind the Windows Defender and Windows Firewall and run antivirus software
Windows 7 and Vista provide a Windows Firewall and Windows Defender as part of the operating system. Windows Defender is antispyware software, and Windows Firewall can help prevent hackers from gaining access through a network or the Internet, and notifies you when suspicious actions are detected.
Other firewalls and anti-virus program are available from many third-party vendors. You should determine which program best meets your needs. A default trial version of one of the leading antivirus software programs was included on your computer to help protect against viruses.
Do not use administrator account regularly
Use the administrator account to set up the wireless router for the initial connection and then log into a standard account when using the computer regularly. When you log in to the administrator account, viruses and malware are able to be stored and run on your computer. On limited personal accounts, the User Account Control (UAC) will prompt you before anything is stored on your computer. If there is software, file or attachment that you would like to install, you can log into the administrator account and install it with your own permission. To learn more about using the administrator account, see Using Administrator User Account to Install New Programs .
Use wireless encryption
Encryption prevents unauthorized consumers from accessing to your network without your security key. You should set up a network security key, which turns on Encryption. Information that is sent from your network will be encrypted so that only computers using the security key can decrypt and read it. There are a variety of sophisticated encryption protocols available for your wireless network. Find the solution that works best for your network security.
  • Wired Equivalent Protocol (WEP)
    Wired Equivalent Protocol (WEP) is a wireless security protocol that encodes or encrypts all network data before it is transmitted using a WEP key. WEP security is basic and easily breached. It does not include key management protocol is not recommended for use. You can allow your setup program to assign your network a WEP key. Alternatively, you can set up your own key, generate a different key, or choose other advanced options. Without the correct key, other people will not be able to use the wireless network.
  • WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access)
    WPA is a more secure choice. It uses security settings to encrypt and decrypt data that is transmitted over the network. However, instead of using one static security key for encryption as WEP does, WPA uses Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP) to dynamically generate a new key up to 64 characters for every packet and generate different sets of keys for each computer.
Security in public places
Wireless networks in public areas or "HotSpots" like coffee shops and airports may not provide any security. If you are concerned about the security of your computer in a HotSpot, limit your network activities to non-critical e-mail and basic Internet surfing.
Run Windows Update to protect your computer
To keep computers on your network safe, prevent or fix problems, improve how your computer works, and enhance your computing experience, update your computer regularly using Windows Update. Windows Update can be configured to automatically update settings and check for updates such as security patches to secure your wireless network. See Using Windows Update Program to Update Microsoft Software in Windows 7.
Run HP Support Assistant to protect your computer
HP Support Assistant can be downloaded for free provides automated updates, onboard diagnostics, and guided assistance to help maintain optimum workstation performance. See Install Latest HP Support Assistant for Maximum Automated Support.


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