1. Use the correct Wi-Fi security standard
- WPA2 is the leading security standard for Wi-Fi networks. Past Wi-Fi security standards have vulnerabilities that have not been patched yet and are considered obsolete. For example, WEP encryption can be cracked in a matter of seconds using specialized software that anyone can obtain. WPS is another standard that is fundamentally broken since in most consumer routers, the user needs physical access to the router in order to connect. This poses more security risks which I will detail later in this article. WPA2 is your best bet for a secure, encrypted connection over Wi-Fi networks.
2. Change your router’s default password
- No seriously, change the default password. Not only are default passwords very easy to find online, in some cases the password is written on the router. Your password should ideally be between 8-12 characters long and include letters(upper and lower case), numbers, and special characters.
3. Hide your network name
- Hiding the name of your network (SSID), is a quick way to deter easy attacks on your home network. The process to disable the SSID varies across router manufacturers but the principle remains the same. Enter your router’s portal using the IP address of the router (If you don’t know the number consult the router’s operating manual). Once you’re in the router’s configuration menu find a setting for “SSID broadcasting” or something of a similar name and disable it. NOTE: you should set the SSID to something easy to remember and type in before doing this as you will need to type the SSID in manually to connect new devices.
4. Be mindful of router/access point placement
- It doesn’t matter how many layers of security you add to your home network, if would-be attackers have physical access to your networking equipment you are vulnerable. Most consumer-grade networking equipment can be reset and reconfigured in a matter of minutes. Additionally, a poorly placed access point can lead to your Wi-Fi leaking into the outdoors. Hackers can use special packet sniffing software on Wi-Fi signals from the comfort of their car. If you can receive signal from your Wi-Fi from your street, consider changing the placement of your router and/or access point.
5. Set a timer for network guests
- Security risks might not even come from your own network or devices. If a friend’s computer or mobile device is hacked they might have obtained your network credentials. By setting a time limit for your guests login, you can minimize the risk of your less security-minded friends from compromising your network. It also serves as a friendly way of kicking people out of your house!