The widespread use of wireless to connect multiple home PCs to the internet is a blessing for convenience, but can be a nightmare in terms of security. Vulnerabilities such as out-of-date antivirus protection, improperly configured firewalls and missing security patches can leave your data exposed.

While there are plenty of programs that can protect individual PCs, NetTrooper distinguishes itself by mapping and monitoring the home network. Aimed at beginners, NetTrooper requires no prior networking knowledge, and common tasks, such as sharing printers and files, can be handled with ease via its simple interface.

NetTrooper handles security with a simple ‘report card’ system. The program analyses connections to other PCs and to the internet, then provides a classification from A to D, where A is the most secure rating. In most cases, simple one-click fixes are available; otherwise, remedial instructions are given.

Various PCs and devices connected to your network are presented in a diagram on the home page (the dashboard). Scrolling over these icons will identify any problems with your setup. NetTrooper will also detect other networks, meaning any risks associated with roaming networks are also identifiable from the dashboard.

Securing a network is a major problem for many home users – encryption and password-protection settings can be overly complicated. NetTrooper automates the process, making it easier to protect bandwidth and data.

NetTrooper will alert you to any unauthorised attempts to access your PC or other problems, such as the failure to install necessary patches for Windows. With many routers, NetTrooper can also check such things as the configuration of the built-in firewall for your peace of mind.

Over the next few pages, we’ll go through the options for setting up and configuring NetTrooper to protect your home network. In addition, we’ll offer sound advice on protecting your network, with products and hints to ensure your online safety.

Installing and configuring NetTrooper

1. Download NetTrooper from sereniti.com. NetTrooper will automatically detect any networks during the installation and, if you already have security in place, will ask you to enter details such as passwords. Once this is done, you can launch the program and begin protecting your network.

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2. The NetTrooper dashboard offers a simple and efficient way to monitor aspects of your network, allowing you to check security settings and set up protection for items (such as folders or printers) that may be shared across a local network. The icons at the top of the dashboard allow you to configure basic network security.

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3. Click ‘Open Connection Manager’. This will launch the Connection Manager as an icon in your system tray. Right-click the icon to open the Connection Manager window. From here you can control settings for devices, groups, email and other programs that connect to a local network or the internet.

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4. Click the Connections tab to change your password or encryption settings. Select Adapter, Configure. The Printer tab allows you to set up security measures for printer sharing, while ‘Internet settings’ is the place to configure email and other applications that connect to the internet.

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5. If you wish to share drives across a network, select the Share tab. From here, click Add, then select a drive and folder you wish to share. Click Next and, if appropriate, add a username and password for that folder. This folder will now be available across a local network, but can be password-protected if necessary.

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6. If you’ve got a virtual private network (VPN) then you can use the VPN Wizard to configure your NetTrooper settings. In Connection Manager, select Security tab, Virtual Private Network and click on the Settings button before entering your details via the wizard.

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>>NEXT PAGE: SECURING YOUR NETWORK WITH NETTROOPER

Securing your home network with NetTrooper

1. From the menu on the left, click the Security icon to get an overview of your settings. From here you can access NetTrooper’s one-click repair. Anything that isn’t secure will be given a rating below A. Click the link to see what you need to improve your network’s security.

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2. From the main interface you can also set up sharing drives and folders across a local network. Click Folder Sharing and select a folder on hard drive. Give the folder a name and it will be added to a list. You can click on this at any point to stop sharing a folder if you change your mind.

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3. One item you might want to access across a local network is a printer that’s attached to a single specific PC. Click the Printer Sharing icon, then Add. This will display a list of any print drivers installed on the PC, from which you can select a device and provide a name. As with folders, this can be stopped at any time.

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4. If you’re having problems with your network and/or internet link, click the Repair Connection icon, select an adaptor and click Repair. This will run thorough diagnostics across any wireless or cable connections, checking such things as your adaptor, IP addresses and connection configuration.

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5. Assuming your router is supported, you can run security checks on it by selecting the Router icon on the lefthand side. At present, only a limited number of models allowing you to test firewalls and connectivity are supported. If your router isn’t included, you can still access its home page from here.

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6. If there are problems with your PC, such as Windows updates that have failed to install or malicious attempts to access your network, NetTrooper will maintain a list of these. Click the Alerts icon for notification of potential security issues and a severity rating. When these are dealt with, click Clear All Alerts.

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7. If multiple users log on to a PC to connect to a network, you may wish to assign different profiles so that, for example, different users will see different shared folders or printers. Open the NetTrooper Connection Manager and click Profiles, New to launch the Profile Wizard.

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8. Enter a name and description for your profile, then assign a group if necessary. Next, decide whether the profile is to be assigned to local network or internet connection, and whether a printer or folder will be shared. When you’ve finished, the profile will be added to your list.

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