How do I protect my wireless connection against intrusion?

A. If you decide to go with wireless for your home networking needs, make sure you secure your home network against intrusion. Many wireless networks are automatically set up so that someone with a wireless card could come by your house--or live next door--and access your home network and the Internet using your connection. To ensure that your data is safe and your network bandwidth isn't compromised from the outside, you can do a couple of simple things. First, make sure your wireless access point isn't broadcasting its service set identifier (SSID), which will prevent most cards from even finding your network. Then, harden your network from the outside by hard-coding the Media Access Control (MAC) addresses of your wireless cards into the management software for your access point, so that only your machines can use the network. Be sure to use 128-bit encryption, if possible, and if you're using a bridged network, with wireless and wired components, consider keeping them separate so that machines on the wireless network can't access resources on the wired one. Also, be sure that you've got the latest firmware update for your wireless access point; many companies, such as Apple, Linksys, and others, have shipped crucial security updates for their hardware.

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