Here’s how to secure your home Wi-Fi network

Wi-Fi is the backbone of home connectivity. Whether it’s your laptop, smartphone, or the dozens of smart home devices scattered throughout your home, they’re all connected to your Wi-Fi router to enable you to experience the world. But going online means keeping yourself vulnerable to a range of threats like viruses, hacking or network intrusion. It’s important to learn how to secure your home Wi-Fi network to ensure a secure online experience.

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The best way to secure your Wi-Fi network is to set a unique SSID or broadcast name and use a complex alphanumeric password between eight and twelve characters. You should also change your default username and password for your router’s administrative page.

Change the default SSID and password

Change the default SSID and password

Most routers are sent with a default name that is transmitted as the router’s SSID. This SSID, also known as Wi-Fi, can specify which brand of router you are using. Router manufacturers often use unsecured passwords, or even re-use passwords across devices, and as such, your first task when setting up your router is to change the SSID and Wi-Fi password.

The exact method of changing the Wi-Fi password may vary depending on the specific model you use, but look for the Wi-Fi or WLAN setting under your router’s admin page. This page can usually be accessed through your browser titled 192.168.1.1. From there, set any recognized name as your SSID. Feel free to get creative with it.

For passwords, it is highly recommended that you choose an alphanumeric combination with at least 8-12 characters. For added complexity, you can even include different cases and special characters. The harder it is to guess, the more secure your Wi-Fi network

Change the router username and password

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While a complex Wi-Fi password will play a lion’s share in protecting your home network, it can be a breach if someone uses brutal force or assumes a password. Turning off access to your router’s administrative page is the next step to follow. Most routers will have an admin as the default username. This, obviously, is very easy to guess.

Go to User Settings under your router’s settings page and change the default username to a unique username. Follow the same instructions as the Wi-Fi password to change the admin account password. Taking it a step further, it’s always a good idea to disable the default admin account as well, since it usually has access to all router settings.

Enable encryption

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Encryption ensures that traffic or data running between your phone, laptop and Wi-Fi router cannot be blocked. This barrier technique is called packet sniffing. Most modern routers will automatically select WPA2 encryption by default, however, it is a good idea to check if you meet the latest criteria. Go to the Wi-Fi page under your router’s admin settings and make sure it’s set to WPA2 or WPA3. Note that WPA and WEP are insecure protocols and have long been compromised. In the unlikely event that your router does not support higher values ‚Äč‚Äčthan WPA or WEP, it may be a good idea to upgrade.

Enable the firewall

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A firewall, as the name implies, acts as a filter between incoming and outgoing network traffic. It compares your incoming Internet traffic with a set of security rules and protocols and acts as a barrier against unsolicited Internet traffic in the form of attack or hacking attempts. If a firewall thinks an unauthorized computer is trying to access your network, it may alert you or block the threat automatically.

Most routers ship with at least one initial firewall built-in. It is usually closed under advanced settings. In entry-level routers, the additional work of traffic processing can affect the overall speed of a firewall network, but enabling it is suitable for minor injuries at speed

Turn off remote management and UPNP

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Mid-range and premium routers are often shipped with built-in remote management utilities. These apps can help you remotely place a tab on your router’s current status, speed, and access point-related information. Some may even allow you to use a router to download files. Unfortunately, over the years the services have rarely been kept secure and up-to-date. It is a good idea to disable them for extra security. If you want to access your router remotely, a reverse proxy service like No-IP or DNDNS can do the same thing, but with much more peace of mind.
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