Hackers have been hacking wireless networks for a long time, but they don't even need to hack your wireless if you never changed your wireless router's admin password from its default value.
If you never changed the admin password on your router after you set it up the first time, then you all the hacker needs to do is look up the default password and log in. There are lists on the internet that provide hackers with the default admin passwords for most commercially available routers on the market today. Just Google: "Default Router Password List" and you'll find several sites that provide the default passwords for just about every major brand of wireless router available.
Other sources of default admin passwords include downloadable PDF manuals available in the support section of most router manufacturer websites.
If you're like many people, when you first setup your router you plugged it in, followed a couple of steps on a quick setup card, and everything just started working. You may have not gone back to change the admin password after you used it to setup the router.
Here are the general steps you will need to follow in order to change and/or reset the password on your wireless router:
If you have completely lost the password that you set and need to set the router back to its factory default password, perform the following steps:
Below are general instructions only. Directions vary by make and model of router. Please consult your router's operating manual before performing any kind of reset procedure, and always follow proper safety precautions indicated in your router's documentation.
PLEASE NOTE: The first step in this process will wipe out all of your router's configuration settings and set them back to their out-of-the-box factory defaults. You will have to change all your routers settings such as your wireless network SSID, password, encryption settings, etc, after performing this step.
1. Press and hold the reset button on the back of your wireless router
You will probably have to hold the reset button from 10 to 30 seconds depending on your brand of router. If you hold it for too short a time it will simply reset the router but won't revert back to its factory default settings. On some routers you may have to use a pin or thumbtack to press the button if it is recessed inside the router.
2. Connect a computer to one of your router's Ethernet ports (but not the one that says WAN)
Most router's have a web browser-accessible administrator page that you must log in to in order to access the router's configuration settings. Some routers disable administration via wireless, so you will need to ensure that you are connected to the router via an Ethernet cable before attempting to access the router's configuration page.
3. In the browser address bar, enter the IP address of your router's administration interface
Most routers have what is called a non-routable internal IP address such as 192.168.1.1 or 10.0.0.1. This is an internal address that cannot be accessed from the internet.
Here are the standard admin interface addresses used by some of the more popular wireless router manufactures. You may have to consult your specific router's manual for the correct address. The following list is some of the default IP addresses based on my research and may not be accurate for your specific make or model:
Linksys - 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1
DLink - 192.168.0.1 or 10.0.0.1
Apple - 10.0.1.1
ASUS - 192.168.1.1
Buffalo - 192.168.11.1
Netgear - 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.0.227
4. Enter the default administrator login name (usually "admin") followed by the default administrator password.
You can locate the the default admin name and password for your specific router by checking the manufacturer's website or by Googling "Default Admin Password" followed by your router's brand name and model.
5. Click on the "Admin" page from your router's configuration page and create a strong password
Be sure you enter a strong complex password for your router's admin password. If you ever looe this password you will have to repeat the steps above.
If you didn't lose you router password but just don't know how to change it, you can skip steps 1 and 2 and enter the admin user name and password that you have into step 4. This will allow you to change your wireless router's password without wiping out all your other router's settings.