An unsecured wireless network can leave your personal information wide open to the kind of prying eyes that you don’t want. It can also allow criminals to use your home Internet connection as a base for their shady operations, which can in turn get you in trouble with both your ISP and the local authorities.
To learn how to secure your home Wi-Fi network, you only need to follow these short and simple steps.
1. Change Your Usernames and Passwords from their Defaults
Default usernames and passwords, whether on your wireless router or your networked devices, are as vulnerable as having no password at all. That means it’s important to change your usernames to something unique while pairing them with unique passwords.
When deciding on passwords to use, shy away from anything that makes sense. You shouldn’t use words, phrases or a combination of dates, nor should you use any online password generators. Pick a random string of letters, numbers and, if your software allows for it, characters like periods and semicolons. This will create the most secure passwords.
2. Change Your Router’s Default SSID
Routers have something called an SSID. It functions much like their name and helps you deduce which router is the router you want to connect to when there are multiple access points available.
Unfortunately, most routers have default SSIDs that are both uninformative and risky. For example, having a Linksys router named “Linksys” gives off signals to any cyber thieves that your router is likely configured to a factory default setting. This in turn makes your router a prime target for attacks.
You can usually change your router’s SSID from within your router’s configuration panel.
3. Enable WEP or WPA Encryption
Most Wi-Fi technology supports WEP or a form of WPA encryption. This allows the messages that travel from your devices to your router to be encrypted, which in turn makes it that much more difficult for malicious individuals to sift through your data.
The strongest form of encryption available on most routers exists in the form of WPA 2 encryption, followed by WPA and WEP encryption. While newer routers tend to support WPA or WPA 2 encryption, you will generally be limited to the type of encryption that your devices support. To maximize your security, you should update your network hardware to something that supports these more advanced forms of encryption.
4. Disable Auto-Connecting to Public Wi-Fi Networks
The devices you allow to connect to your Wi-Fi network are just as important to secure as your network. That’s why it’s important to disable automatic connection to public Wi-Fi networks; they may not be secured and could play host to a variety of malicious applications and software just waiting to infect your computer.
If you have automatic connections enabled, your computer may try to connect to these networks if you home wireless network ever goes down.
5. Reposition Your Router and Wireless Access Points
Most wireless routers and access points should be located in the center of your home to maximize the quality of connections devices can achieve. This also reduces the quality of any connections that people outside of your home can achieve, as your wireless signals won’t travel as far.
For additional security, your router may be able to reduce the signal strength. This allows you to further limit the range of your wireless network.