Here we can see, “How Secure Is Your Home Wi-Fi?”
Everything in today’s technology is a compromise between convenience and security. Everyone wants quick internet access, which is why Wi-Fi is available everywhere. But how safe is your Wi-Fi router at home? What can you do to ensure the security of your network?
You probably have very little to worry about if you follow a few common-sense and easily implemented best practices, which is something you rarely hear these days.
Anthony Vance, professor and director of the Center for Cybersecurity at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, said, “Basically, Wi-Fi is pretty secure.” “It isn’t something to be concerned about.”
The devil, of course, is in the details, and we have some unpacking to do.
What Your Router Does
Your router may go unnoticed, but it is likely the most important device in your home. It is, without a doubt, the most crucial device connected to your network.
The majority of Wi-Fi routers have multiple functions. They’re first and foremost gateways, connecting a cable modem to the internal network. They’re also wireless access points that connect your home’s Wi-Fi devices to the Internet. Most routers also have a few Ethernet ports, functioning as a network hub or switch.
Many cable companies offer all-in-one modems and Wi-Fi routers, so you might be able to get everything done with just one box.
However, if your cable company provides you with an all-in-one modem and router, you may want to reconsider. Many of them aren’t particularly fast, and they may lack the features and security that a standalone router would provide.
Routers Get a Bad Rap
Many people are suspicious of their Wi-Fi router, believing it is just one simple hack away from leaking their personal files or allowing strangers to steal their bandwidth. However, this is a misunderstanding.
- “Wi-Fi access point security was really bad in the early days with WEP,” Vance said. “I believe that has tarnished Wi-Fi security ever since.”
- WEP was the first Wi-Fi security protocol, and it had fatal flaws that made it only slightly more secure than no security at all. It was phased out in 2004 and replaced by WPA, then WPA2, still in use today. It’s an encryption scheme for home networks that has no practical flaws.
- WPA2 will be phased out in favor of WPA3, which is just hitting store shelves. There are a few improvements in this new standard, including resistance to dictionary attacks. This effectively protects your network from password guessing by brute force. It will be particularly useful for networks with weak passwords.
Use a Guest Network
However, not every bell, whistle, and security feature included in a modern router is worth the money. Vance doesn’t recommend upgrading to WPA3 just yet if you already use strong, unique passwords on your router.
- Other features, on the other hand, might be worth it. For many people, their current router doesn’t allow them to set up a guest network is enough of a reason to upgrade. A guest network is distinct from your main network.
- Vance explained, “It’s like having two different access points.” “They both have internet access, but they can’t communicate with each other.”
- That’s great for guests (hence the name), but smart devices are a much better reason to use a guest network. All of your primary computing devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and computers, would be connected to the primary network in this manner. However, you’d join the guest network to all your Internet of things (IoT) devices, such as kids’ gadgets.
- According to IEEE member Kayne McGladrey, “Wi-Fi networks are only as secure as the least secure device attached to them.”
- Webcams, doorbells, switches, plugs, and other Internet of Things devices are notoriously insecure.
- According to McGladrey, “insecure IoT devices can be tricked into divulging a Wi-Fi password.”
- This isn’t just a case of security experts wringing their hands. Millions of vulnerable home network devices, such as unsecured routers and IoT devices like baby monitors and webcams, were infected by the Mirai botnet attack in 2016. The devices were then used to launch a massive distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. For many hours, it rendered the Internet inaccessible to millions of people in the United States.
- Connecting all of those devices to the guest network is the only way to ensure the security of your Wi-Fi network. Even if one device is hacked, the hacker will be limited to your guest network and will not be able to access your most sensitive devices or data.
- You can even schedule when it can allow access if you have a guest network that supports it.
“At 3 a.m., neither children nor washing machines require an active internet connection,” McGladrey said.
Security via Passwords
So, as long as you follow some best practices, your Wi-Fi router is fairly secure. To begin, make sure you’re using strong custom passwords.
- “If you’re using WPA2,” said Dave Hatter, a cybersecurity consultant. “And you’re going to be pretty secure if you have a reasonable password, around 15 characters that can’t be easily guessed.”
- Your router has at least two passwords, and you must remember all of them. Controlling the admin password to control the router, in addition to the primary Wi-Fi password, is critical.
- “Anytime you deviate from the default settings, you’re asking for trouble,” Hatter said. “Finding the manufacturer’s guide for many routers isn’t difficult, and you’ll know what the defaults are right away. Furthermore, tools like Shodan make it simple to locate every router of a specific brand online. So, if you know what the default settings are, you can quickly locate them and attempt to hack.”
- Things are, thankfully, improving. Rather than using the same set of characters for all models that come off the assembly line, many newer routers come with randomized passwords. The California Consumer Privacy Act, for example, mandates that all devices be sold with unique passwords.
You should, however, change the default password—the longer, the better.
Other Best Practices
- Password hygiene is, without a doubt, critical to the security of your Wi-Fi network. There are, however, additional steps you can take to ensure the safety of your network.
- One method is to make sure your router is up to date. Some routers automatically update their firmware, but many do not. To do so, go to the router’s admin settings in a browser or on your phone and check for updates. In general, router manufacturers don’t release updates very often, so it’s likely to be critical when one does.
- You should also turn off router features that put your network at risk. Remote access is the most important of these.
- “You don’t want anyone to be able to access that thing remotely,” Hatter explained. “Any access should be performed from a machine that is connected to your local environment.”
- Some security experts have more steadfast advice. McGladrey recommends replacing your router every two to three years and checking IoT devices for security flaws before buying them.
- Not every suggestion is feasible for everyone. However, if you keep the router’s firmware up to date and change the passwords regularly (perhaps twice a year), you should be fine. And you can rest easy as long as your IoT devices have their guest network to play on.
“If the Iranians or Russians decide to make you a target, that may not be enough,” Hatter said. “However, it will deter the majority of hacking.”
Keep your home Wi-Fi safe in 7 simple steps
- Modify the name of your home Wi-Fi network’s default name.
Changing the SSID is the first step toward a safer home Wi-Fi network (service set identifier). The network’s name is known as the SSID. Many manufacturers set a default SSID for all of their wireless routers. Most of the time, it’s the company’s name. Each network that publicly broadcasts its SSID is listed when a computer with a wireless connection searches for and displays nearby wireless networks. This increases the chances of a hacker breaking into your network. It is preferable to change the network’s SSID to something that does not reveal personal information, thus deter hackers.
- Create a strong and unique password for your wireless network.
A default password is pre-programmed into most wireless routers. Hackers can easily guess this default password, especially if they know the router manufacturer. Make sure your wireless network password is at least 20 characters long and contains a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols. Hackers will find it difficult to gain access to your network if you use this setting.
- Enabling network encryption
Encryption is available on almost all wireless routers. It is turned off by default. Enabling encryption on your wireless router can help secure your network. After your broadband provider installs the router, make sure to turn it on right away. “WPA2,” the most recent and effective type of encryption available, is the most current and effective.
- Disable the broadcasting of network names.
It is highly recommended that you disable network name broadcasting to the general public when using a wireless router at home. This feature is frequently useful for businesses, libraries, hotels, and restaurants to provide customers with wireless Internet access, but it is rarely required for a private network.
- Keep the software on your router up to date.
Like any other software, Router firmware can contain flaws that can turn into major vulnerabilities unless manufacturer firmware releases quickly address them. To ensure no security hole or breach is left open to online predators, always install the most recent software available on the system and download the most recent security patches.
- Make sure you have a strong firewall in place.
A “firewall” is a program that protects computers from malicious attacks. Although most wireless routers have built-in firewalls, they are sometimes shipped with the firewall turned off. Make sure the firewall on the wireless router is turned on. If your router doesn’t have a firewall, make sure you install one on your computer to keep an eye on malicious access attempts to your wireless network.
- Connect to your network via a virtual private network (VPN).
A virtual private network, or VPN, is a collection of computers or networks connected via the Internet. VPNs, such as Norton Secure VPN, can be used by individuals to secure and encrypt their communications. A VPN client is launched on your computer when you connect to a VPN. Your computer exchanges key with another server when you log in with your credentials. All of your Internet communication is encrypted and protected from prying eyes once both computers have verified each other’s authenticity.
Most importantly, check what devices connect to your home network and make sure they have virus and spyware protection installed, such as Norton Security.
I hope you found this guide useful. If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to use the form below.
- Can my Wi-Fi at home be hacked?
Your home network can be hacked… A hacker could easily find the default password for a specific router type and use it to gain access to many devices. Hackers can also take advantage of security flaws in router firmware.
- Is it safe to conduct banking transactions over home Wi-Fi?
Because Wi-Fi broadcasts data to anyone within range, your personal information may be at risk. 1 This is especially dangerous if you use Wi-Fi to conduct online banking. It’s impossible to avoid using Wi-Fi entirely. Saving banking sessions for when you’re at home or on a wired connection is probably not a good idea.
- How come to my Wi-Fi at home isn’t secure?
Anyone within range of the connection can connect to it without a password if it is not secure. This type of Wi-Fi network can be found in public places such as coffee shops and libraries. Despite built-in security features, many people leave their router/modem and network settings at default.
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