Have you considered how to protect your home wifi? Most people today take steps to protect themselves online. That may include installing antivirus software, using browser extensions that alert them to suspicious websites, or installing system updates.
However, another important part of good cybersecurity is protecting your home wireless network. If you’ve never done this, you might not know where to start, but the process is fairly simple and the results will go a long way in protecting you and your loved ones. So here are eight easy steps for protecting your home wireless network.
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Change The Name Of Your Wifi Network
Many default settings on routers are standardized based on their brand. This is for the convenience of consumers when they are first setting up their wifi network, but it also makes it easy for hackers to take advantage of people who don’t change these default settings.
One of the standard settings for most routers is the wifi network name, or SSID (Service Set Identifier). Usually this will contain the name brand of the router, which is handy for setup and great marketing for the router company, but also encourages hackers. Changing your wifi’s name makes it harder for hackers because if they don’t know your router’s model, they don’t know its default passwords or brand-specific vulnerabilities.
Another tip is to not use your own name in the name of your wifi network. As Ioana Rijnetu of Heimdal Security explains, “You don’t want [cybercriminals] to know at first glance which wireless network is yours when there are probably three or four other neighboring Wi-Fis. …disclosing too much personal information on a wireless network name may expose you to an identity theft operation.”
Choose a name that’s easy for you to recognize and remember, but something that a casual acquaintance might not easily associate with you. Or choose something generic, like the name of a popular band or your favorite sports team.
Change The Default Password On Your Router
Router security is an important, but often overlooked part of cybersecurity. After setting it up, most people tend to forget about their router until the wifi drops or the device dies, but routers and cameras account for 90% of attacked devices according to statistics from 2019.
As mentioned, companies that make routers set all of their routers to the same default password. That means if someone knows the brand of your router, then they can simply find the router’s default password on Google and access your device, changing your settings and even locking you out of your own wifi.
And hackers know this. “Many people ‘set up’ their router by plugging it in and then following a few steps on a quick setup card. Few change the admin password after using it to set up the router,” explains Andy O’Donnell of Lifewire. So take the time and develop a challenging password.
Change Your Router’s Admin Password To Protect Your Home Wifi From Hackers
Routers have two passwords, one to simply connect to your wifi and one to access settings on your router. These settings are important because they allow you to alter security settings and control who has access to your network. Again, the default password is often standard by brand, and there are websites that offer lists of these default administrator passwords for people who may have lost them.
Changing the password to connect to your router is a good first step, but if you don’t also change your administrator password, then anyone on your network will have that ability. This includes your prankster friends, your kids’ mischievous buddies from school, and a long list of people you may or may not remember sharing your password with. But more importantly, having a separate password for admin credentials adds an essential second layer of security to your network.
If you need help changing your wifi password or your router’s admin password, Lifewire has a great article that walks you through the process step by step.
Keep Your Passwords Private And Limit Access
It’s important to change default passwords, but it’s just as important to keep passwords private. Maybe you feel comfortable sharing your wifi password with friends, but remember that once other people have your password, you can’t control who they share it with, nor can you control whether they are using good security practices to protect sensitive information on their devices. The more people who have access to your password, the less able you are to protect your home wifi from unauthorized use.
Similarly, as Stephen Cooper points on in his article “How To Secure Your Home Wireless Network,” not everyone who enters your home is entitled to your password or use of your network. “Commercial visitors [like a plumber, a gardener, or a decorator] shouldn’t need to access your wifi router in order to get information off the internet for their work. Their employers should provide them with a data plan or a USB modem if their business model includes storing data in the cloud.” While it may be awkward to refuse a request for your wifi password, it is never silly or selfish to take steps to protect yourself.
Another option some routers offer is the ability to create a guest network. This is handy because it allows visitors to use your router to connect to the internet without actually connecting to your personal network. This means while they can access all the funny cat videos the web offers, they cannot access your devices or folders on your computer.
Turn On Wireless Network Encryption
Encryption is kind of like creating a spy code for your data. Your device will scramble the data you are sending online. When the data reaches the right recipient, that recipient will unscramble your data and make sense of it. The advantage to encryption is that if your data is intercepted by other people, they won’t know the right way to unscramble it.
Most routers today offer a form of encryption. The most secure type of encryption is WPA2. You can typically choose the type of encryption you want to use by accessing your administrator settings on your router. (I told you those admin settings were important!)
Update Your Router Regularly
Just like any other electronic device, routers get periodic updates from the manufacturer. These updates help protect your home wifi by patching security vulnerabilities, as well as making your network more stable or faster, so it’s really important to check for those updates and install them. If you’re not sure how to do this, HelloTech offers a great guide to updating your router’s firmware.
Also, routers do need to be replaced once in a while. Older models may not support the highest security methods, so it’s a good idea to check your router’s abilities against the latest security standards. You don’t necessarily need the most expensive or high-end router, but you do want one that can offer standard security features.
Secure The Devices Connected To Your Network
Any device that can access the internet can also be accessed from the internet. This means your fancy smart TV is a security vulnerability if you’re not taking steps to protect it. The same goes for your smart speaker, Roku or Firestick, and so on.
The security features available on smart devices vary by device type and manufacturer, so you may have to do your own homework there. It’s best to develop a habit of securing devices when you initially set them up so you don’t forget.
Standard Security Practices: The Best Way To Protect Your Home Wifi
You should already be using antivirus software to protect your computers, and hopefully you’ve also activated your firewall. If not, these standard internet security practices will go a long way toward protecting your home wifi. You can read more about using good cybersecurity habits here.
Additionally, you may want to use a VPN when you access the internet as a way to encrypt your information exchange online. If you’re not familiar with VPNs and how they work, or you’re not sure which one is right for you, we’ve got a handy blog post on VPNs to help you out.
If you’re worried about your home or business network security, then you should know that TracSoft has been protecting people in the Columbus, GA and Phenix City, AL area (and beyond!) for over twenty years. Our IT professionals offer top-notch security monitoring using the latest tools in the industry. By providing customized plans, we make sure each client has just the right security for their business and industry needs. We will ensure your data is protected as if it’s our own. Contact us today to find out how TracSoft can protect you.