How to Secure a Wireless Network With a Mac

by Christopher Capelle

Securing your network with a password is no longer an option, as an open network leaves your computer, files and personal data wide open to hackers, thieves and other cyber-lowlifes. Allowing personal data to be vulnerable is asking for trouble; fortunately, securing your wireless network with a Mac is a fairly straightforward process that even technically challenged users can handle.

A Wireless Router

Determine which type of wireless router your network is using. It’s either an Apple AirPort wireless router or a third-party unit. AirPort routers require proprietary software (available for both Macs and Windows computers) to configure, while virtually every other wireless router uses a Web browser (Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera) to configure. If you’re using an Apple AirPort, skip ahead to Section 2; otherwise proceed with Step 2.

Connect to your network and launch a browser. Enter your wireless router’s address in the URL bar (see Resources). Once you’ve opened the configuration page, look for the link that allows you to configure the wireless settings, usually named “Wireless” or “Wireless Settings”.

A wireless password will keep hackers away from your data.

Click the link for the page that allows you to reset your network’s wireless security. Once you’ve found it, you’ll have several options. If you want to create your own password, select WPA as the security method; if you want your password to be a series of randomly generated characters, select WEP.

Save your settings before quitting your browser. Reconnect to your wireless network by pulling down the pizza-slice-shaped icon in the upper right corner of the screen and selecting your wireless network. If you have configured it correctly, you will be prompted for the password that you created in Step 3.

Securing Your Apple AirPort

Connect to your network as described in Step 4 above and then launch AirPort Utility, which is found in “Utilities”, in the “Applications” folder. Select your AirPort unit from the list on the left and click on the “Manual Setup” button. Click on the “Wireless” tab to open the wireless configuration window.

Choose “WPA/WPA Personal” in the “Wireless Security” pull-down menu and enter a password (a minimum of eight characters) in both the “Wireless Password” and “Verify Password” fields. Note that in this case you must create your own password, rather than rely on a randomly generated one.

Your network is now password protected.

Click on the “Update” button when you’ve finished configuring your AirPort. The wireless network will be unavailable until the AirPort has completely rebooted. Once the green light appears on the AirPort unit, connect to the wireless network as described above, and enter your wireless password in the window that opens when you attempt to connect wirelessly.

Tip

  • check Windows computers can connect to an AirPort network without any additional software; however, to configure an AirPort in Windows, you must install AirPort Utility for Windows.

Warning

  • close Forgetting your wireless password will force you to reset your router to its original factory defaults.

About the Author

Christopher Capelle is a freelance copywriter with over two decades of experience. Subjects of his writing include the business and technology fields, consumer products and home repair/improvement. He graduated from The University of Connecticut and earned a master's degree in journalism from Iona College.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera secure data image by dinostock from Fotolia.com