The Wi-Fi router is undoubtedly the most important component of your home network. It’s the hub of wireless Internet connectivity, but can also be exploited by the bad guys to break in and gain access to or steal your data.
Since Wi-Fi signals extend farther than the confines of your home, they’re a potential route for cybercriminals to get into your home network. Therefore, it’s only wise to take the necessary measures to make your Wi-Fi as secure as possible.
Hackers can take advantage of your weak Wi-Fi security to eavesdrop on your data or launch attacks such as man-in-the-middle, sniffing, etc. Furthermore, Wi-Fi vulnerabilities like KRACK shouldn’t be taken lightly as well; they impact all devices connected to a Wi-Fi.
In this article, we’re going to cover the steps that you need to follow for enhancing the security of your wireless network at home. Without further ado, let’s get started:
1. Change the Wi-Fi network name
All Wi-Fi routers use a network name, also known as SSID (service set identifier). If you haven’t changed it yet, there’s a good chance that you’re using the default SSID set by the manufacturer. Unfortunately, this makes it easier for attackers to know what brand or model of router you have at home, and exploit any associated vulnerabilities.
For this reason, the first thing you should do to secure your home Wi-Fi is change the SSID but refrain from including any personally identifiable information – such as address, phone number, etc. – in the name.
2. Use WPA2 encryption (or higher)
A variety of tools are freely available that allow cyber thieves to crack poor Wi-Fi encryption and view, intercept, and even modify your Wi-Fi traffic. There are three main wireless encryption technologies in use today: WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access, and WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2).
To change the Wi-Fi encryption you’re using, you’ll have to access the router’s admin settings from your web browser. We’d recommend opting for WPA2 as it’s the safest option of the three and uses AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) cipher to secure transmissions between user’s devices and the Wi-Fi router.
Note: The new sheriff in town WPA3 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 3) was announced last year, but mass adoption is still expected to take time. Until that happens, you should stick with WPA2 only.
3. Select a strong admin password
You can access your router’s console from any device connected to your home Wi-Fi for managing the network configuration. The thing is, most manufacturers often use the same login credentials for most of their routers. These can easily be found on the Internet, and aren’t too difficult for a well-versed hacker to guess either.
From there, all they’d have to do is log into the admin console of your router and change the admin password to keep you out. If you lose access to your router’s admin settings, you won’t be able to make any changes to enhance the security of your home Wi-Fi. That’s why you should use a strong admin password, one which is too long and complex to crack.
4. Keep router firmware updated
According to Broadband Genie, an alarming 86% of consumers never update the firmware of their router. Firmware updation is an important part of keeping your home Wi-Fi network secure because it will patch any bugs that might have occurred and sometimes add functionalities to help your router function better.
If you want to avoid manually updating your router firmware, you can set up automatic updates from the router’s admin settings. However, the process of doing so will differ depending on the brand and model of your router.
5. Hide SSID broadcast
Wi-Fi routers by default broadcast the network name to make it easy for you to find and establish a connection to. This feature was designed keeping businesses in mind where users might roam in and out of the Wi-Fi range. Inside households, however, not only is this unnecessary but also increases the risk of perpetrators logging in to your network.
Fortunately, you can disable the SSID broadcast feature on most Wi-Fi routers via the admin console. It indeed is a simple measure to take, but will help you avoid getting on the radar of opportunistic cybercriminals.
6. Use a Wi-Fi VPN
Another great way to secure your home network from intrusion is equipping yourself with a reliable WiFi VPN provider such as PureVPN. In case you’ve been living under a rock over the past decade, a virtual private network (VPN) is a technology that creates a secure connection between your device and the Internet.
All your web requests are routed through this encrypted tunnel, so they can’t be redirect or viewed by anyone – not even the ISP! By configuring it on your router, the VPN protection is applied on all the devices connected to your home wireless network.
7. Enable firewall
Firewalls provide a layer of defense against cyberattacks coming from outside your home network. The best part about modern wireless routers is they come with firewalls built-in, but it’s very likely that you haven’t activated the feature yet. Make sure that you enable the firewall to keep your network safe from cyber threats.
If your router is without one, you have the option of installing a good firewall device to your router for the same effect. Don’t forget to do your due diligence before choosing one though; you wouldn’t want to shelve out money on a hardware firewall that doesn’t get the job done!
If you want to keep hackers from getting into your home network, it’s important that you secure it as much as possible. The ways we’ve discussed above should prove useful in this regard, even if you’re a non-tech savvy person. Good luck!