Many households often forget about their routers and Wi-Fi access points when preparing a home data security plan. If you have a home Wi-Fi network, you should know that those two are among the easiest channels for entry from hackers and other unauthorized individuals. Always ensure your wireless network is secure and free from all vulnerabilities before connecting your device. These tips can help you achieve that:
- Avoid malicious websites
Steering clear of malicious websites is an indirect but often effective way of securing your wireless network. Common hacker targets include adult content sites, illegal movie and music streaming sites, and online gaming platforms. Visiting sites in these categories significantly increases your risk of being hacked through viruses and other malware. That is not to say you give up your hobbies to ensure your data security, though. Many platforms have developed robust security plans to spot hackers and stop them in their tracks. For example, if you are a gambling buff, mychance.com provides a secure way to register, deposit money, wager, and withdraw wins for its clients. Such sites are rare, but a good search will always land you on one.
- Change default authentication details
Wi-Fi providers assign default username and password combinations to each of their new users, but these credentials are never secure as hackers can easily find them online. If these individuals get their hands on these details before you change them, they can access your account and set their own username and password. This will lock you out of your own network and pose serious security risks. Thus, the first step upon installing your new Wi-Fi infrastructure is to change the default credentials. You can use whichever username you like, but your password should be as hard to guess as possible. Ideally, set one that has uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Also, make a point of changing your password regularly, especially if you provide it to your home visitors or suspect someone has seen it.
- Install a VPN
One of the main benefits of using a VPN on your router is that it saves you the hassle of installing a VPN in your other devices, from your phone and computer to devices that can’t run software such as smart fridges.
Configuring your wireless router to use a VPN also helps you circumvent ISP surveillance and data throttling, as well as VPN company restrictions. Most VPN service providers won’t let you connect more than five devices concurrently, while some will charge more for more slots. However, when you use a VPN at the router level, the company will only count one device no matter the actual number of devices connected.
- Encrypt your data
Encryption is a feature offered by popular VPNs, but it is also available as a built-in service by virtually all wireless router manufacturers. Today’s routers offer three encryption types: WEP, WPA, and WPA2. WPA2 is the most secure one, although older devices may not support it. Explore the wireless properties under Network Settings to confirm whether or not your router supports WPA2 encryption.
- Turn on your Wi-Fi only when it’s needed
Hackers can make their way into a Wi-Fi network only when it is turned on. When it is off, they wouldn’t even know there is a network in the vicinity. Therefore, it is advisable to turn your Wi-Fi off every time you leave for work or run an errand. The technique may not necessarily eliminate the risk of being hacked, but it minimizes the chance of opportunistic hackers stumbling on your network and making you a target.
- Keep your router far from the windows or doors
The most common benefit of installing your wireless router near your house’s center is that it helps balance your signal distribution. However, that’s not the only thing it does: placing your router at the edge of your house increases the reach of your signal and makes it easier for hackers within the neighborhood to intercept your data. Consider finding a central place within your house, so your signal doesn’t spread to places it shouldn’t.
- Disable remote administration
Today’s routers come with a web interface feature through which you can configure them from a browser. This web interface is only accessible if you are using your Wi-Fi network to connect to the internet. However, some routers have a remote administration feature that lets you access the web interface even when you are not using your local network. This is an issue as it exposes your network to any hacker on the internet. Disabling this feature might limit your control over your own network, but it will protect you from the risk of other people remotely accessing the network. You can disable the feature by opening the web interface and clicking disable on the “Remote Administration,” “Remote Management,” or “Remote Access” option.