Securing the Linksys WRT54GL Wireless-G Router

Securing the Linksys WRT54GL Wireless-G Router

Two of the most popular posts on Technically Easy has to do with securing the Linksys WRT54G and D-Link DI-524 wireless routers. With many people using wireless routers at home, it becomes more important to secure the connection to the router form a computer. When I turn on my laptop at home, I can see at least five wireless networks (all secured).

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I decided to write another “how to secure a wireless router” guide, to help those who may not have one of the two routers listed above. This guide will describe the steps you need to take to secure the Linksys WRT54GL Wireless-G router. The steps required are very similar to the WRT54G, but to avoid any confusion, I created this guide.

Securing Your Wireless Router

To secure your Linksys WRT54GL Wireless-G router, use the following 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 be changing it later if you are using the default password.
  4. The Basic Setup Web page should now be displayed in your browser. Scroll down the page until you see Maximum Number of DHCP Users.
  5. By default, many different computers (default 50) can connect to your router. We will limit the number of computers that can connect to just those computers that you use.

  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. After changing your password, click Save Settings at the bottom of the Web page.
  11. If you are prompted to login again, 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. When you connect to your router wirelessly, you are doing so over an unsecured connection. To secure this connection click the HTTPS checkbox next to the Access Server option.
  14. Click the Save Settings button at the bottom of the Web page after selecting the HTTPS option.
  15. You won’t get the settings saved page again because the URL in the address bar is not longer correct. From now on, when you want to access the administrative pages of your router, you must use HTTPS instead of HTTP when specifying your router’s IP address in your browser.

  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. Next to the Wireless Network Name option, type in a name for your 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.
  23. Next to WPA Algorithm, select AES. If you have trouble connecting to your wireless router, select TKIP.
  24. 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.

At this point you have secured your wireless router and network, so all you need to do is connect to your router from your computer. When prompted, enter your WPA Shared Key exactly as you specified it in the router.

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.

This post provided step-by-step instructions on securing your Linksys WRT54GL Wireless-G router. After following the steps, you should now be confident knowing that you have a secure wireless Internet connection.

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91 Responses to “Securing the Linksys WRT54GL Wireless-G Router”

  1. Giles wells says:

    When I reach step 18 the drop menu in Wireless Security sub-menu the Security Mode is set to “Disable”.

    Then I try to set it to WPA Personal but when I do that, the page instantly refreshes before I can save. When the page refreshes, the Security Mode is set back to disable.

    What should I do Paul?

    – Giles

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