How Secure Is Your Home WiFi Network?

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If you read this blog, you are probably aware about the security problems inherent to public WiFi networks. But what about your home WiFi network? Since it’s most likely encrypted, you probably don’t think much about it.

And that’s a mistake, because some of the “out of the box” settings can result in subpar security that can put you at risk.

Below are some tips about making sure your home WiFi network is as safe as it can be:

• If your home WiFi network is not encrypted, encrypt it immediately. And if your WiFi router is using WEP, change it to WPA/WPA2.

All WiFi routers support some kind of encryption, which scrambles information you sent over the Internet. There are several kinds of encryption, so be sure to choose the strongest form available. WPA (WiFi Protected Access) or WPA2 is the strongest in use right now. Do not use WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), as it out of date and has serious vulnerabilities.

• Change the default router password.

Check to see if your router’s password is still using the default password you received when you first installed it. Many of these default passwords are easily guessed by hackers. If someone guesses correctly, they could get access to your router settings, including your security keys.

• Change the default SSID name and disable SSID broadcast.

The SSID (Service Set Identifier), or network name, is the name assigned to your wireless router. Many routers use the brand of router as the SSID by default. This is risky because anyone can see the SSID, and if a hacker knows the router brand, they can know how to attack it. To that point, your WiFi router typically broadcasts the SSID to everyone. This was designed for open WiFi networks, and not for home networks. It increases the chances that someone will detect your network and try to break into it. Most WiFi routers allow you to turn off the SSID broadcast option.

• Enable your router’s firewall.

All routers come with firewall capability, but this default setting can be turned off. Make sure that it’s turned on. For even more security, make sure that each computer on your networks also uses a firewall and antivirus software.

• Enable MAC address filtering.

Every mobile device and/or computer has a unique identifier called a MAC address. This allows WiFi routers to keep track of all the devices connected to them. Many WiFi routers allow administrators to physically enter the MAC address of the devices that want to connect to the network, which would keep out anyone else. This is known as MAC address filtering.

• Disable remote administration.

Most routers allow administrators to connect remotely. If you do not need this, disable this feature, as hackers could take advantage of it. You can still change router settings by attaching a network cable from your computer to the router.

While most of us know about the risks of public WiFi networks, we probably are not as well aware of the risks posed by our home networks. Taking a few minutes to make sure our home router security is as good as it can be can help prevent any future headaches.

As always, we must remain vigilant to make sure our security is not compromised.

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Jared Howe

Jared Howe is PRIVATE WiFi’s Senior Manager, Product Marketing Communications. Working in high tech for over 15 years, Jared currently lives in Seattle with his wife, daughter, and their two cats.