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It is always exciting when you get a wireless home network for the first time, and in that excitement, we tend to rush through the process of setting up the wireless network leaving most of the settings to its default. While it is understandable, it is also a security risk to leave wireless home network as the mercy of default settings.
I have jotted down a couple of DIY steps that will help you secure your wireless network from the sneaky neighbor to a potential hacker. We all love free Wi-Fi from our neighbor, but when it comes to the security, you shouldn’t take it lightly.
Change the Default Router Username and Password
Tons of sites may have mentioned this already, but we cannot stop stressing on this enough. All the wireless home networks need a Wi-Fi access point which is made possible by a Wi-Fi router.
Since any computer or smartphone can find the Wi-Fi network in range, even if your Wi-Fi connectivity is password protected, the hackers try to gain access to the home network by accessing the Wi-Fi router using the default username and password.
It is effortless to find the default username and password for any wireless router online, and most of the manufacturers use common admin credential. So, the first thing you should after setting up a Wi-Fi network is to change the default administrator credential with something more secure.
After changing the default admin username and password, it is also a good idea to change the default SSID. While having access to SSID itself is not an issue, a default SSID only hits a poorly configured network.
To access the Wi-Fi router admin dashboard, you need to enter an IP address in the web browser. You can refer your Wi-Fi router manufacturer’s website for the instructions or check the documentation included with your router.
Enable Wireless Network Encryption
While connecting to any Wi-Fi network you may have noticed security protocols WPA and WPA2. Most of the Wi-Fi devices including your smartphone use WPA2 protocol to keep the network secure from any unauthorized access.
WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) and WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access II) are types of encryption that encode the data sent between the device over the wireless network making it inaccessible for any other device or third-party in-between. If possible find a router with WPA3 security, it is a successor to the WPA2 and offers a more secure connection. New ISPs like Jio Gigafiber broadband offer routers with latest security features. If you are using any other ISP, you can contact and ask them if they are offering routers with WPA3 protocol.
On old devices, you will also find WEP security protocol. While it worked well back in the 90s, currently the WEP encryption is not considered as secure enough as it vulnerable to attacks easily. It is always advisable to use the latest encryption protocols to protect the exchange of information between the devices.
Choose a Long and Strong Wi-Fi Password
To avoid the hassle of remembering and entering a long and difficult password, users try to set a very common and a short eight-character password to the Wi-Fi network. While this might be convenient for some, it is also a security risk. Cracking common and short passwords is easy for even a beginner with some persistence.
To better protect your home wireless network always use a long and strong password. Use a password with letters, number and symbol combination.
One way to set a long and strong password and also remember it easily is to use a familiar name as password but with a slight change to the spelling.
Example – If you own a Samsung Galaxy phone, you can keep the Wi-Fi password as “Samsanggaluxy+” instead of using a common word like Samsunggalaxy+ as the password.
See the image below, just by changing the spelling for a common and popular name the password strength has jumped from 33% to 77%.
Turn on MAC Address Filtering
Media Access Control (MAC) address is a unique identifier used by Wi-Fi router to keep track of the devices that are connected to them. By enabling MAC address filter, you can filter out any third-party or unauthorized device from accessing the home network.
All you have to do is add the MAC addresses of the device that are used inside your home or by the people you know into the router, and it will try to prevent unknown devices from connecting to the network. While the MAC address filter feature is useful for low-level security, some hacks can easily fake MAC address to gain access. Still, enabling MAC address filter ads a layer of protection to your home network.
Limit Wireless Network Reach
While there is no way you can directly limit the range of a Wi-Fi router, but by placing it in the right spot of the house, you can limit the range of Wi-Fi outside the premise while providing enough range inside the home.
Position the router in the middle of the house so that the range outside the home becomes limited. You can also some jugaad to limit the WiFi network range. You can search YouTube for ideas to limit the Wi-Fi range.
Turn off Remote Router Management
Modern routers from NETGEAR and other brands come with a Remote Management menu that allows the user on the internet to make changes to the router remotely.
By disabling the Remote Management features in your Wi-Fi router, you can prevent anyone from accessing the router without your permission from the outside. To disable remote management, refer the documentation included with your router or visit the manufacturer’s website.
Your Security is in Your Hand
The above-mentioned steps can help you to keep your home wireless network secure. However, it is necessary that you stay alert while giving access to your network or accessing someone else’s network. Let us know what measures you have taken to protect your wireless home network in the comments.