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October 15, 2007

Secure your wireless network with Windows Live OneCare 2.0

Today, quite a few households have wireless networks that are unsecure – wide open for anyone to connect to. This could be a huge problem especially if PC’s in that home are sharing important family files – like photos and documents – that shouldn’t be seen by strangers. In Windows Live OneCare 2.0, a new feature is coming that will let users of Windows Live OneCare secure an unsecure wireless network in their home. I decided to give this new feature a try and share my experience.

Once I connected to the unsecure wireless network, I launched Windows Live OneCare and was alerted by Windows Live OneCare that I was on an unsecure wireless network and that it can help me to secure it.  I clicked “Turn-on” and started the process. Here is a video demo of me going through the process of securing an unsecure wireless network:

Video: Demo: OneCare Wireless Security

I’d like to take a few moments to elaborate on a few things from the video. First off: the router I used to test this was *not* connected to the Internet. Most users who will use this feature to secure their router will have it connected to the Internet. Once going through the wizard to secure the router with Windows Live OneCare – the user and any other PC’s on the home network should be able to access the Internet just fine. There will be no issue securing a router connected to a WAN (WAN being your ISP for Internet access).

To secure your wireless network – you are required to connect via cable (Cat-5) – which is why I needed a Cat-5 cable in my video to proceed with the process of securing my router. This is important as this prevents anyone from connecting to your network wirelessly and using Windows Live OneCare to wipe your wireless networking settings with their own settings. This is what the OneCare Team calls the “proof of ownership” check.

In securing your router – it does not completely wipe out all your settings. The settings that Windows Live OneCare changes during the securing process are the SSID, enabling of WEP security, & setting of the WEP key. After Windows Live OneCare secures your router, you are given instructions on how to set up other PC’s on your home network with the new settings Windows Live OneCare enabled on your router.

This is looking to be a very useful and interesting feature for home users who are unfamiliar (and maybe uncomfortable) getting onto their router and configuring it for secure wireless capabilities.

There is a wiki setup over on Channel 9 with informaton on this feature of Windows Live OneCare 2.0 worth checking out as well.