With countless mobile devices now searching for access to wireless networks, your network could be hacked if you do not tighten your wireless network security.
We do not want your wireless network hacked, and your shared data accessed. And we don’t want passers-by to drain your bandwidth out of the blue, either. That is why we have highlighted tips that you may want to implement.
Without further ado, here are smart and effective ways to secure your wireless network and prevent your data from being compromised.
1. Use Unique and Strong Passwords
This is one of the first security measures you should take when setting up your wireless network. By default your wireless router comes with a username and password. We have noticed that some wireless routers are shipped with “admin” and “password” as username and password respectively.
Some people do not bother changing the default username and password. Do not fall into this trap.
Be sure to use passwords that are difficult to decipher. One good practice is to use a combination of letters – lower and upper case, numbers, special characters and symbols. Use a password only you know and make sure it is easy to remember. Long passwords (with 16 or more characters) are good. Taking a few minutes to implement this is time well spent.
Whatever you are up to, never leave your WLAN network open, that is, without a password.
Have too many passwords to remember? Well, try using a password manager.
2. Change Password from Time to Time
Change your Wi-Fi password regularly. This reinforces the first tip. We know that this may be difficult for some to implement, since most routers require you to input your password once and never prompts you to do so during subsequent log-ins.
3. Change Original SSID Name
Router SSIDs reveal your router’s name and sometimes the model. Some router SSIDs bear the name of the internet service provider (ISP), that is, if you purchased yours from an ISP.
It is never a good idea to use your default service set identifier (SSID) name, because most default SSID names assigned by manufacturers are very easy for password cracking software to decode.
If a hacker can identify your router’s name or model, then you’ve made the job a lot easier for him because anyone can look up the default username and password associated with a router. If your router’s model is ABC-1, it is likely that other ABC-1 models are shipped with the same default username and password – manufacturers rarely change this.
Remember you can be locked out of your own network, if some hacker succeeds in getting on your network.
4. Create a Separate Network for Guests
We have said that when using routers with enterprise WPA or WPA 2 security, each user has a different username and password. If yours isn’t that way, creating a separate network for guests, is a good practice.
5. Conceal Your Network Name
If you care about your security and do not want strangers connecting to your wireless network, then conceal your network name (i.e., your SSID). With some routers, you can’t disable your router’s ability to broadcast its identifier.
Some routers do not have this feature. If your router has this function, simply go to settings and deactivate SSID broadcast.
Know this: after hiding your network name, accessing your router’s network with a new device may be difficult, so verify before disabling your SSID broadcast. Better still, you may want to enable it temporarily every time you want to link a new device.
6. Enable Your Wi-Fi’s Firewall
Firewalls protect users from attacks and they are not the exclusive preserve of laptops and PCs. The best wireless routers come with a firewall. If your wireless router lacks a built-in firewall, you can install one, or better still, get a firewall hardware which pretty much serves the same purpose.
Some routers have a “Stealth Mode” feature which lowers their visibility and reduces vulnerability to attacks.
7. VPN All the Way
If you are serious about securing your WiFi network, use a VPN.
Virtual private networks (VPN) are renowned for helping us keep things private while online. But their use is not limited to that alone. Like firewalls, they can help keep network intruders at bay.
VPNs encrypt all information that goes in and out of your computer. This encrypted information goes through your router. So, even if your router is compromised, the encryption offered by your VPN covers your data.
8. Update Your Router’s Software Regularly
Updating software manually can be tiring. However, always update your router’s software from time to time. You can look at the manufacturer’s website every now and then to see if there are newer versions of your router’s software. If there are any, do well to download it.
That said, some manufacturers push software updates automatically (i.e., auto-update) to your device, and your duty is simply to hit the download button. But you still have to enable this feature.
We encourage this, because most software updates come with additional security enhancements. So, if you want your wireless network to remain secure, this is one good practice you should adopt. Subscribe to updates from your router’s manufacturer.
Truth is, you can have the strongest username and password. But if your router’s software is out-of-date, then you are making it a lot easier for anyone to access your data. Hackers take advantage of software loopholes. Security patches which come in the form of updates released by your router’s manufacturer is an excellent way of taking care of these loopholes.
9. Keep the Device Itself Safe
Most times, we focus only on the software side of protection, without protecting the physical device. If someone gets hold of your wireless router, pressing the reset button (if your device has one) is enough to alter all the passwords and encryptions.
We recommend placing your wireless network device at a central position in your house and away from a window. This has two benefits: first, it makes for equal access irrespective of where you are in the house. Second, the walls within the central location serve as some barrier, making signals difficult for anyone outside to use your network.
10. Enable Enterprise WPA2 Encryption
Most modern wireless networks and the best wireless routers use Wi-Fi protected Access 2 (WAP2) encryption technology. It is stronger than wired equivalent privacy (WEP) and Wi-Fi protected access (WPA).
The WPA2 technology allows you to use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols for your passwords unlike WEP passwords which only allow letters (A – F) and numbers (0-9). Some devices now use WPA3 wireless network security standard.
Another important feature of enterprise WPA2 technology is that it validates each user separately. This simply means that each user or device uses a different Wi-Fi username and password.
Again, If a device which uses the network is stolen or employee connected to the network moves away, all you need do is to deactivate their accounts. Simple.
With encryption network, no user can view another user’s data traffic.
11. Disable Remote Access to Your Router
Most routers by default allow manufacturers access to your router’s settings by default. This makes it easy for technical support to be provided the user. Turn off remove administration as this is now one of the routes hackers go through to gain entry into your network.
Remember to turn off “admin via wireless” if your router has this feature. This makes it difficult for anyone who isn’t connected to your router via your Ethernet cables to tamper with admin-only settings.
12. Limit Your Router’s Range
You must have noticed that the closer you are to your router, the better the network signal and vice versa. This signal range can be adjusted manually on some routers.
Reducing the network range makes it impossible for people who aren’t within the range to access your network. You can activate this feature on your router’s settings.
It may not be possible to completely prevent you wireless router from transmitting signals when it is on.
13. Adopt MAC Filtering
Another intelligent way of limiting access to your wireless network is by enabling media access controller (MAC) filtering. Every device capable of connecting to a network has a MAC address. With MAC filtering, only devices with MAC numbers you have permitted can use your wireless network.
One downside of using MAC filtering is that you have to enter MAC addresses of the devices you want to link to your wireless network manually. Secondly, in this day and age, some hackers can mimic a MAC address by changing the MAC address on their devices to tally with the one visible on a porous network.
Nevertheless, it’s better to have an extra layer of security and give internet carpetbaggers a hard time than being complacent.
14. Turn Off Your Router When You’re Not At Home
It is very, very difficult for anyone to gain access to a wireless network when the router isn’t even on to begin with. I you aren’t going to be home for a long time, simply turn off your router and disengage all cables connected to it. A good practice is to turn off your router while you are asleep, not only when are not at home.
An additional benefit is that your router won’t be affected by a power surge. Of course it reduces your electricity bill.
These changes and routines are quite easy to implement and would save you a lot of hassles. So whether you are tech savvy or not, give them a try.