We all love the convenience of our home Wi-Fi. But, that accessibility can allow us to fall prey to attacks. To help us enhance our Wi-fi security at home, James Stanger, Ph.D., the Chief Technology Evangelist of Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) underlines the importance of focusing on cybersecurity’s best practices to secure your Wi-Fi access points. He also promotes the use of vendor-specific tools that can help you raise your cybersecurity.
Doing so will help lower your profile to attackers. According to Dr. Stanger, there is no need to present an attack surface to the bad guys any more than you already do, which is why he provides you with his foolproof list on how to improve your Wi-Fi security at home.
Wi-fi Security Tip #1: Change the default settings, including the default login
Many Wi-Fi access points have default accounts that have little or no password protection. In the past, one very popular vendor used the word “admin” as the username and a blank password for the password. Modern access points have changed their ways, but it is still a good idea to change default settings.
Wi-fi Security Tip #2: Enable encryption
All modern Wi-Fi devices allow you to enable relatively sophisticated encryption, including Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2). Modern routers use Wi-Fi 6 technology, which provides more than faster speeds; it allows you to use better encryption more easily.
Wi-fi Security Tip #3: Enable access control and have a hacker-proof password
You can configure a Wi-Fi device to require the use of a strong password. Dmitrij Żatuchin, Ph.D., the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of DO OK, doubles down on the idea claiming that it does not take a lot to hack a network password these days, as there are cracking programs out there that will make quick work of weak passwords within a few hours.
Dr. Żatuchin adds that it would require the hacker to be physically in the area where the Wi-Fi is located though, which is very unlikely to happen. Having a secure password always helps to prevent remote hacks so make sure to stick to the basics and always use uppercase, lowercase, symbols, and numbers in all your passwords.
Wi-fi Security Tip #4: Disable Service Set Identifier (SSID) broadcasting
A Wi-Fi device usually defaults to broadcasting its network name and other information. In many cases, you can disable this service to make your Wi-Fi network adopt a slightly lower profile.
Wi-fi Security Tip #5: Segment your Wi-Fi networks
In other words, create separate subnets for certain people. You can, for example, create a family-only network that allows more connections, or you can create adults-only subnets for the parents, and kids-only subnets for the rest of the family. It is also a good idea to create a subnet for guests. This way, you can start to implement better access control.
Wi-fi Security Tip #6: Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
If you need to connect to work or to other resources, consider using a VPN connection. Caleb Chen, a Privacy Expert from Private Internet Access emphasizes that using a VPN service while connected to Wi-Fi is a good tip for those seeking to encrypt the data sent from their device to their Wi-Fi router for increased security.
He also suggests that those that want the next level of security and privacy can install the VPN on their router which ensures that all internet traffic is encrypted and safe from your internet service provider (ISP) or others on your network.
Wi-fi Security Tip #7: Enable the firewall that comes with your Wi-Fi or cable modem/DSL modem
When enabling a firewall, it is often a good idea to deny all access, and then allow only certain types. This approach can be somewhat time-consuming, and frustrating at times. But once you work out the traffic you need to allow, your Wi-Fi connection will be much more secure.
Wi-fi Security Tip #8: Update your Wi-Fi firmware
It is a good idea to update all software as much as possible. Just like how your Windows or Linux operating system requires periodic updates, so does the firmware on your Wi-Fi device. In some cases, it might even become time to completely replace a device, if it is impossible to update it.
To add to this, CleverCreations Founder Tim Koster underlines the fact that security vulnerabilities in router firmware regularly get discovered. If you have a router with outdated firmware, there is a good chance that you are exposed to malicious attacks.
He points out that checking the router manufacturer’s website for updates once every couple of months and installing them is a good way to protect yourself. If your router is outdated and does not have official support anymore, it might be time to look for a new one for this reason.
Wi-fi Security Tip #9: Use two-factor authentication (2FA)
One way to help secure your communications is to use 2FA whenever possible. If a social media service or Web site offers the use of 2FA, then use it. But only use 2FA if the second factor uses a dedicated application; text-based 2FA uses legacy networks that do not properly encrypt transmissions. While using 2FA is not specific to Wi-Fi routers, it is a way to protect sensitive authentication information.
Desiree Macy is the Editorial Director of Security Forward which is frequented by security executives, corporate security officers, and private protection professionals each month. Desiree’s interests revolves around cyber-security, and business continuity.