Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

How to secure your home Wi-Fi network

It is time to pay attention to some router settings, because apart from someone piggybacking for free on your bandwidth, there is the risk of hackers finding their way to your data

With the smartphones and tablets taking over as a productivity device for a lot of power users, using a Wi-Fi network at home or in office is the most feasible mode of internet access. However, since these networks allow for plug-and-play solutions for multiple gadgets, they also make it easier for hackers and people with malicious intent to access data from connected devices. While work places leave no stone unturned to keep their Wi-Fi networks protected and secure, most people do not pay the same amount of attention to their home Wi-Fi set-ups.

Here are some simple ways in which you can prevent unauthorized access to your network, by tweaking some settings on the Wi-Fi router.

Change the routers SSID name

Every router comes with a default SSID (Service Set Identifier) name used to identify a network. People often change the SSID to something that is more familiar. Some even use personal information as name, birth date, even address as their SSID. Always keep a random SSID name with a mix of random numbers and letters that doesn’t give away any personal information.

Add unique password

Most users keep passwords on the names of one for their family members or their mobile number. A simple password is easy to crack because it is easy to guess. Complex passwords with a mix of letters, uppercase and lowercase characters, symbols and numbers are considerably harder to get through. Avoid using your date of birth, your pet’s name or your own name in the password. It is even better if you change your router’s password frequently.

Use the right network encryption

Every Wi-Fi router comes with built-in encryption standards like WPA (wireless protected access) and WPA 2. The latter is the most secure and complex nut to crack. It uses AES (advanced encryption standard) and generates a new encryption key frequently throwing probable hackers off-track. In case your router is old and it is running the older WEP (wired equivalent privacy) standard, a firmware update may be able to add WPA 2 to it. You’ll need to check the manufacturer’s website to see if a newer firmware is available. If not, it would not be unwise to invest in a new router.

Which Firewall to install

Firewall acts as a filter that blocks unwanted content from passing through the wireless network. Most routers come with in-built firewalls. It is always better to have this enabled, simply because this will protect against unauthorized access to your wireless network. Do not get confused by the firewall on your laptop because that is tuned to block out malware and viruses. The router’s firewall essentially sits between incoming Internet traffic and all devices that are connected to the router.

Using VPN can help

Virtual Private Network (VPN) helps bypass geographical location and access content that is otherwise restricted in your country. When it is deployed in a wireless router, it would route all communication through the VPN’s encrypted tunnel. So, even if the device that you are using does not support VPN, it would keep your communications secure.

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