Are you interested in how to secure WiFi in you home but have no idea how to go about it? Well done for being pro active about the security of your WiFi connection. A lot of people believe that purchasing a wireless router is a set and forget deal that comes with a plug and play type setup. However, you do need to ensure that from a router security standpoint you have done your bit to decrease the chances of a breach.
In this guide we will show you the top ways that you can secure your WiFi connection and you don’t have to be tech savvy to understand how these WiFi security tips must be implemented. Once setup it will only take a minimal amount of time to complete a few maintenance checks.
What can happen if I don’t secure my WiFi connection?
Without a secure connection it allows others within range of the WiFi signal to piggyback of your connection. For those of you who are paying for their internet on the amount of data consumed will see a spike in the monthly bill.
Furthermore, as more people are connected the speed of the connection for other users will decrease. Let’s say that the unwanted network users are streaming 4K content and downloading movies or games – you’ll certainly feel a slowdown in your internet speed.
The worst that can happen is provide hackers with a path of entry to your network, which in turn means they can get access to the personal files on your computer. Financial information and other data might be accessed that can result in more serious problems than slower internet or a higher monthly internet bill.
Do you really want the headache of having this problem? If not, then pay attention to the variety of steps that you can take in order to increase the security of your network. In most cases the steps only take a few minutes and can easily be executed by those of you that have never fiddled around with a WiFi router before.
12 tips on how to secure WiFi in your home
It’s not possible to 100% secure any network, but there is a lot that you can do to deter anyone trying to take advantage:
Access the router settings page: Want to access the router settings page, but don’t know how to do it? Go to the address bar of any browser and type in the IP address of your router. Next you’ll be asked to enter the username and password of the router. Every router comes with a different username/password but you can change that as mentioned below.
The router settings page allows you to perform a number of functions to make changes to the security settings that will be given to you in this article. Familiarize yourself with the different functions available so that you know what your router offers.
Create a unique admin username and password: When you purchase a new wireless router it will come with a generic username and password – some might not come with a password at all. The generic usernames are public record for almost every single router that exists. As you can see not changing these factory settings allows a hacker to get access a lot easier. Before you do anything else make use you create a unique admin username and password.
The password should contain a mixture of numbers, upper and lower case letters. It should also be random so that there is no way to guess what it is. If you forget the newly created username/password you can always reset it back to factory settings and change it once again.
Router app: Most wireless routers nowadays come with their own app that gives you the flexibility of managing your home network via a smartphone. Familiarize yourself with this app because it allows you a hassle free and fast way to access the details of your home network. Let’s say that you are at work and suspect that there might be a problem with your home network, then you can get out your smartphone and make the required alterations to restore security.
A good quality router app should have the functionality to perform all functions such as change the router password, assign network permissions to each member of the network and monitor the traffic of the network.
Activate encryption: In the last decade every router that has been released into the marketplace has come with encryption, which is the biggest defense against unwanted users. Modern routers will come with encryption that is called WPA2 Personal, but if that isn’t available then at the very least ensure that you have WPA Personal activated. The encryption type should be set to AES, and it’s advisable to avoid TKIP if possible.
An encryption password will need to be entered. This isn’t the same password that you use for the router. The encryption password is the one that is used when any device wants to connect to the network. Therefore, it should be strong to prevent people from guessing it. It would help if you can choose a password that is memorable so that you do not need to locate it every single time you want to add a new device to the network.
Additional firewall: In order to protect your internal network from potential attacks you can turn on the firewalls functionality at your router if it hasn’t automatically been enabled. Instead of saying firewall it might say NAT (network address translation) or SPI (stateful packet translation). For an additional layer of protection make sure that these functions are enabled.
Additionally, make sure that the firewall on your Windows is turned on and there is no software that sends out data over the internet without your permission. You can view the programs and software that have permission granted to be connected to the internet.
Filter Mac Addresses: You might already know that every computer connected to the internet has a unique IP address. In the same fashion every device that is connected to your home network has their own unique MAC address. For even more protection you can add a list of MAC addresses to your router that will have permission to connect. This means that other devices will not be able to connect – even if they have the encryption password.
You can perform MAC address filtering in your administrative settings. The MAC address of a device can be found by opening the Command Prompt and typing “ipconfig/all”. All the MAC Address will be shown alongside the physical addresses so that you can easily figure out what MAC address belongs to what device.
The process of having to add an inclusion for every MAC address might be an additional step that takes more time, but it will add an extra layer of protection to your home network that could potentially deter unwanted users from trying their luck.
Reduce the signal range: It might seem somewhat counter-intuitive, but getting a router with a smaller range or reducing the range of an existing router might be better overall. For example, if you have a powerful router, but live in a small apartment, then you do not need to broadcast the signal to half the apartment block.
To reduce the signal range you could switch the mode of the router from 802.11g instead of 802.11n/b. Also you could place the wireless router under the bed or inside a piece of furniture.
Finally, place your router in the center of your home. This allows all areas of the home to receive the signal equally. Whereas, if you place the router at the corner of the home then you’ll need to have a stronger signal in order to provide coverage for the far end of the home.
Change the SSID name: The SSID name is the name of the network and will typically be related to the name of your router. It makes it obvious for people outside of the network to figure out what type of router you have, and that in turn gives them extra info to try and attempt to hack into your network.
By changing the SSID name you are removing an important piece of information. You can change it to anything you like that would make it easy to spot among the many other WiFi home networks that might be in the area. Just do not use your personal details or physical address in the name so that others cannot guess what network the SSID name belongs to.
Update router firmware: Security holes can be exploited in software that isn’t updated, that’s why your windows operating system requires constant updates and the same goes for the firmware of the router. Take a peek at your router settings every month or so to see if an update is required. It might be the case that the updates are set to automatically download and install. However, when your security is on the line it doesn’t hurt to check manually.
Disable DHCP: DHCP or Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol is a function in your router that determines what specific IP address is tied to a device that is connected to the network. If a router has an IP that is 192.321.0.1 then there could be up to 26 different IP addresses – 192.321.0.100 to 192.321.0.125.
You could disable the DHCP function altogether, but then you’ll need to go into your router settings and manually assign an IP address to each device connected to the network. So if you have a lot of connected devices such as a smart watch, modern coffee machine and so on then there is a lot of playing around that needs to be done. However, by taking this extra step you will be increasing the security of your WiFi connection. It’s not as important as the encryption of the password, but nonetheless it’s a security step that can be taken if you want to.
Take advantages of VPN’s: A VPN or Virtual Private Network creates a tunnel via a third party service when connecting to the internet. It masks your identity when connecting to the internet so others will not be able to see your internet traffic. This is a good idea even if you’re not using a WiFi connection to get online. Some internet users actually never go online unless they are connected via a VPN. There are plenty of third party services that provide VPN’s so take a look around at what is out there, read the reviews and select one that you can trust.
Protect connected devices: In addition to protecting the wireless router you need to also protect the connected devices such as the laptops and personal computers that will be accessed. Investing in a professional anti-virus software package is advisable. Furthermore, you need to stay away from questionable websites that could potentially be infecting your computer with a virus or malware as you are browsing it.
Safe internet practices contribute to a more secure home network. Make sure to not only educate yourself on the safe internet practices, but also other members of the network. This will reduce the number of ways that potential hackers can find their way into your home network.
As the administrator of the home network you can monitor the types of websites that members of the network are browsing. If you feel some of the websites are questionable then you can share your concerns with the user. Just make sure you do not spy on users of the network without them knowing.
Don’t skip on home network security
When it comes to home network security it shouldn’t be taken lightly. That’s why we put together a comprehensive list of the steps that you can take to increase the security of your home network. All the steps will work with any modern wireless router and some routers might come with their own security features that should also be taken advantage of.
We hope that this article on how to secure WiFi in your home has shed some light on the easiest and most effective ways of improving your home network security. Doing so helps to ensure that you can enjoy the internet without worrying about who else might be trying to gain access.