I have toyed a lot with my wireless LAN security settings and thought I’d throw my two cents into the ring about this topic. I am not as paranoid some other computer users, so bare that in mind. To me, the best overall Internet experience is done through a traditional CAT5 wire. I insist that my desktop PC be wired, but that is also to ensure a fast connection while file sharing across the network with my laptop. Wireless LAN is fast, but it is slowed down if the source and destination computers are both using wireless signals. Also, it is worth mentioning that if you have a wireless-G router and wireless-G card, then turn off the mixed signal mode (B+G), which is probably your router’s default. This will speed things up. I am using a Linksys WRT54G router, by the way.
When it comes to the security, you should certainly not run your network with security disabled. I once thought I’d maximize my throughput by turning off all security, not broadcasting my network ID, and turning on MAC address filtering. This probably isn’t a good idea. If someone wanted in, it would have been easy.
I have tried it all. I used WPA for a while, only later to realize how much it had slowed me down. Pages would fairly quickly fill up with photos and text. It wasn’t that bad. But instead, with WEP security enabled, pages popped up on my screen like changing channels on the TV. I know that WEP can be cracked in 15 minutes from what I have read, but in my opinion, this is the best of both worlds. I want speed! Today, I use WEP with a 64-bit key. I know that some security hounds are reeling. But this is what is best for my needs. It is probably a good idea to change your WEP security key once in a while. I tend to change mine every month or two.
I wonder who really cares about my network, anyway. At my house (where they are not that close together), I can see up to six wireless networks, half without any security enabled. Personally, I have no idea how to spoof a MAC address, find hidden networks, see another person’s data, or hack their security. Nor do I care. I have no need for that ridiculousness. I have my own high speed connection, thank you. Besides even if I was leeching, there are numerous open networks available practically everywhere. Who then cares about mine? Nobody. Why would someone go to so much trouble. If you use wireless networking at a business, that is a different story, and security is paramount. But for normal personal use, it is just fine. Perhaps I am a little paranoid because I do all of my online banking via my wired desktop, and never over the wireless connection.