Securing the Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Router

Securing the Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Router

I discussed establishing good wireless network security in a post titled Securing a Wireless Network, but now I will discuss securing the Linksys WRT54G wireless-G router. I currently have a Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G router. When I work from home I use this router to connect to work through VPN, and have done it without any problems. It has made a great cable router for my broadband connection.

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The big issue with wireless networks is security. As anyone with a wireless network card within a few hundred feet of your router can connect to your router. To prevent this from happening, it is important to secure your router.

Securing the Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Router

Note:

If you need to reset your router back to the factory defaults, then please read How to Reset the Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Router.

To secure your Linksys WRT54G wireless router, follow these steps:

  1. Open your Internet browser and enter the following in the address bar: http://192.168.1.1.
  2. Note:

    If you have changed the IP address of your wireless router, enter that into the address bar. By default, the address is 192.168.1.1.

  3. Enter the user ID and password for your router. If you haven’t changed it, the default password is “admin”. We will change it later if you haven’t already changed it.
  4. You should now see the “Basic Setup” Web page display in your browser. Scroll down the page until you see “Maximum Number of DHCP Users”.
  5. This option will assign a specific number of IP address to computers. If more than this number of computers tries to connect to your router, they will not be able to.

  6. Count the number of computers that will connect to the router, and type it into the “Maximum Number of DHCP Users textbox”.
  7. Scroll down to the bottom of the Web page and click “Save Settings”. Once the settings have been saved, click “Continue” to return to the Web page.
  8. At the top of the Web page, click the “Administration” option in the menu bar.
  9. On the “Management” Web page, you should see two password text boxes. This is where you should change your administrative password. Type in a new secure password into both boxes. If you need help creating a secure password, please read Creating Secure Passwords.
  10. Once you have changed your password, click “Save Settings” at the bottom of the Web page.
  11. You may be prompted to login again, if you are then enter you new password in the password field.
  12. Navigate back to the “Management” Web page by clicking the “Administrative” option in the menu.
  13. We will now encrypt your connection to your router setup from your computer. To do this click the “HTTPS” checkbox next to the “Access Server” option.
  14. Once again, click the “Save Settings” button at the bottom of the Web page.
  15. You won’t get the settings saved page again because the URL in the address bar is not longer correct. Since you have changed your connection to HTTPS, it you need to specify that in the address when you connect to the router setup.

  16. In your browser, change the address to: https://192.168.1.1.
  17. If you get a security error, ignore the error and continue to the Web page.

  18. Login with your password and then click the “Wireless” menu option.
  19. Beside the “Wireless Network Name (SSID)” option, type in a name for you network connection.
  20. Click the “Save Settings” button and the “Continue” button to return to the “Basic Wireless Settings” page.
  21. Click the “Wireless Security” sub-menu option at the top of the page. This is where we will provide the most important security setting.
  22. Next to “Security Mode”, select “WPA – Personal” from the drop-down list. If you have trouble connecting to your wireless connection, you can try selecting “WEP”, but your connection will be much less secure. For more information about WEP and WPA please read Wireless Security: WEP and WPA.
  23. Next to “WPA Algorithms”, select “AES”. Once again if you have trouble connecting to your wireless router, select “TKIP”.
  24. Now you must get very creative. Specify a long “WPA Shared Key” with a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and punctuation. Once again, please read Creating Secure Passwords for tips on how to do this. In this case the longer the better.
  25. Make sure you write down this key somewhere, either on a piece of paper or in a text document on your computer. You will need this information when you connect to your wireless network.

  26. Click the “Save Settings” button at the bottom of the Web page, and then the “Continue” button.

Now you are all done securing your wireless router and network. All you need to do is connect to your network, and enter your “WPA Shared Key” exactly as you specified it. I won’t go into detail on how to connect to your wireless network, as I will save that for another post.

Wireless Router Security Connection Questions

Question: How come we didn’t disable the SSID broadcast? Won’t that help with securing my wireless connection?

Answer: It has been mentioned many times that disabling your SSID broadcast will help secure your network. The reality is that those who attempt to get into your wireless network will be able to easily pick up or SSID whether it is broadcasted or not.

You may also have problems connecting to your wireless router if you disable the broadcasting of your SSID. I keep it enabled.

Question: Why don’t you filter who connects to your wireless router using the MAC address by turning on MAC address filtering?

Answer: This is another tip you may see on the Internet about securing your wireless network. There are a few problems with turning on the MAC address filtering.

The first problem is that a hacker can easily spoof a MAC address, and therefore bypass the MAC filtering. The second is that you need to manage the MAC addresses of all network cards attempting to connect to your router. Since it really doesn’t provide a lot of security, it is just easier to keep it turned off.

Question: Why do you specify to use WPA – Personal first, and not WEP?

Answer: The reason is that WPA is much more secure than WEP, and therefore you should use that security mode over WEP. An experienced hacker can easily crack WEP encryption so it doesn’t provide as strong security as WPA. If you can’t use WPA, use WEP because it is still better than nothing.

After following the steps, you should now be confident knowing that you have established a good wireless network security which provides a secure Internet connection through your Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G router.

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334 Responses to “Securing the Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Router”

  1. Linda Kassis says:

    Hi Paul
    I changed from HTTP to HTTPS. Now I cannot login to my router. I see many others have had this issue, however, I have not seen that they were able to get logged in and change it back to HTTP. Any help? I’m stuck. I would assume if I do a hard reset I would have to re-setup my cameras too? Those were a pain the first time. I wish I had known changing to HTTPS would have no affect on security. I wouldn’t have chosen it. Any help would be most appreciated.

    • Paul Salmon says:

      If you do a hard reset and configure your router as you currently have it (same SSID and passphrase), then your devices should reconnect to your wireless network without any issue.

  2. Adam S says:

    Thanks so much for the layman’s view of this router. I learned quite a bit about routers here and now can wrap my mind around the technology. Much appreciated!

  3. Jeff says:

    So helpful! Thanks a bunch.

  4. Randy says:

    Excellent page–wish I had found it sooner.

    My question is this–should ftp work with WEP or WPA (or WPA2) security?

    Background: I’ve setup an ftp server on a wireless device (iRulu running Android 4.2). The only way I can get it to work so far (to allow other computers on my wired LAN to connect to it) is if I set up the WiFi connection with no security. In every security configuration I’ve tried (none, WEP, WPA, WPA2 (with a different router)), the iRulu can get to the Internet over the DSL modem shared on the LAN. But, as I stated, I can only get the ftp server to work with no security on the WiFi link.

    Thanks for any help / hints you can offer.

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