To understand this topic, you must first understand the dangers of insecure Wi-Fi networks. Sometimes, wireless devices in a network are open for public use and are unprotected via passwords. This means that they are available to any Wi-Fi-enabled devices within range of their wireless connections, such as laptops or phones.
Unfortunately, for people and businesses, using open or insecure networks can be dangerous. This is because hackers can capture personal information and steal identities through internet-connected devices. Moreover, they can corrupt financial and other sensitive corporate data or even eavesdrop on confidential information.
Why is the Router The Most Important Internet Device in Your House?
Routers act as a sentry, checking every incoming and outgoing traffic to ensure that nothing hazardous or sensitive enters or leaves. They also manage access to your home Wi-Fi network, as well as all of your phones, tablets, laptops, and other devices connected to them.
This means that if someone else acquires access to the network, compromising your devices becomes easy. It does not matter whether it’s a remote hacker or your next-door neighbour. With this in mind, it’s critical to safeguard your router.
The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to help you minimize your risk dramatically. These steps will require you to access your router’s configurations, which you can usually do by typing an IP address into your online browser.
Alternatively, if you’re lucky, you can use an app on your phone. If you’re not sure where to look for these options, look in the router’s manual or conduct a quick web search for your router’s make and model.
6 Simple Steps to Secure Your Router
Change Your Password From Time to Time
To protect access to your router, you should use WPA2 security, which essentially requires every new device to join with a password. This is automatically enabled on almost all routers, but if it isn’t on yours, go into your router settings and enable it.
Changing the Wi-Fi password is usually a smart idea but it means you’ll have to reconnect all of your gadgets. On the upside, it also gets rid of any unwanted guests lurking about. In light of this, a list of connected devices should appear in your router’s settings screen, although it may be difficult to understand.
We also suggest changing the password regularly because many users leave the presets in place, which means that anyone who knows or can guess the defaults could alter your router. Preferably, make it difficult to guess but impossible to forget, just like any other password.
Note that if your router is a more current model, you may see warnings if the new passwords you choose are too easy to guess or brute force. In due time, WPA2 will eventually give way to WPA3, which offers better set-it-and-forget security. However, until then, keep your Wi-Fi passwords updated and secure.
Only Use Updated Firmware
Your router is normally controlled by firmware, which is low-level software that controls everything the router does. It establishes your network’s security standards, as well as the rules that govern which devices are allowed to connect.
Some more recent routers update automatically in the background, but regardless of the type, it’s always a good idea to check the firmware. This ensures you’ve acquired the most recent bug fixes and security updates, and you’re safe from any newly identified exploits.
Note that the procedure varies by the router. However, the option to upgrade your router’s firmware, like the password parameters, should be easy to find within the router control panel. Remember to check the router manuals or the direct support site on the web if you get confused.
If you’re lucky, the update procedure happens automatically in your router. What’s more, you may receive notifications on your phone when a firmware update is applied, which usually occurs overnight. If you’re unlucky, you may need to download new firmware from the manufacturer’s website and direct your router to it. If that’s the case, it’s well worth the extra effort.
Filter Addresses Using Media Access Control (MAC)
The use of MAC addresses, which limit access to a Wi-Fi network, is another basic approach to Wi-Fi security. This software is a unique code or number that is used to recognize individual network devices. While this method provides more security than an open network, it is still vulnerable to attacks from attackers that use spoof or changed addresses.
Always Disable Remote Access, WPs, and UPnP
Many routers provide capabilities that make remote access from outside your home more convenient. This means that changing the settings shouldn’t be hard. Therefore, unless you need admin-level access to your router from somewhere else, you can typically safely disable these features from the router settings panel. Apart from that, most remote access apps work just fine without them.
Always Use Certificate-based Authentication.
Regular passwords are based on the end-creation user of keywords or phrases. On the other hand, certificates protect information delivered over the air using encryption keys. Moreover, they are verified using EAP-TLS, the most secure authentication protocol.
Unfortunately, the costs of maintaining and establishing a PKI infrastructure to enable certificate authentication may appear intimidating. However, a SecureW2 can help you establish the safest network possible with ease.
You should also check out the Universal Plug and Play feature. UPnP is a protocol that allows devices like gaming consoles and smart TVs to access the internet without having to go through a lot of configuration windows. As such, malware programs can exploit it to gain high-level access to your router’s security settings.
That said, keeping remote access and UPnP enabled may not expose you to the worst of the internet but it is a good idea to keep them switched off if you want to be as secure as possible. After all, if you find that some of your network’s apps and devices need UPnP, you can re-enable them without too much trouble.
Besides this, consider turning off Wi-Fi Protected Setup. Normally, WPS has good intentions in that it allows you to connect additional devices with a button press or a PIN code. However, it also makes it simpler for unauthorized devices to obtain access because a numerical PIN is easier to brute force than an alphanumerical password. Therefore, disable it unless you have a specific need for it.
Consider Using a Guest Network Where Possible
Always take full advantage of your router’s ability to broadcast a so-called guest network if it is available. As the name implies, you can give your guests access to your Wi-Fi network but not to the rest of your network. That way, access to your Sonos speakers, shared folders on your laptop, and printers remain limited.
Well, it’s not like your friends and relatives are snooping around your network. Nevertheless, allowing them access to your primary network increases the risk of them accessing a file you don’t want them to see. What’s more, they could accidentally change a setting that causes you trouble.
Lastly, guest networks add another stumbling block in the path of someone trying to get unauthorized access to your network. This is because even if they get on the guest network, they won’t be able to operate your other devices or the router itself.
Types of Wi-Fi Network Security Devices
• Active Devices
These are publicly available devices that can provide a secure network infrastructure. They do so by blocking adversarial assaults and undesirable network traffic. Simply put, it is hardware that is set to restrict excess network traffic. Firewalls, antiviral scanners, and content-filtering gadgets are perfect examples of Wi-Fi network security devices.
• Passive Devices
These types of devices are perfect for detecting unwanted network traffic. In addition, they are more beneficial because they consume less energy than active Wi-Fi devices. More importantly, they have an added degree of protection by only communicating with Wi-Fi routers when the routers are actively looking for them.
That way, MITM attacks will be prevented by the added security layer. A MITM attack is when a hacker tries to intercept communications between two parties to “listen in” on their activities or change the traffic they exchange.
• Preventive Devices
A preventive device, such as a wireless intrusion detection and prevention system (WIPS), can check networks for potential security flaws. In most cases, a WIPS can be embedded in networks or used to supplement independent sensors. However, some WIPSs, on the other hand, just monitor networks on an as-needed basis, leaving networks exposed.
• Unified Threat Administration (UTM) Systems
Typically, UTM systems include anti-virus software, content filtering, VPNs, firewalls, and other system security features. These systems make integrating multiple security functions easier.
This is because they perform these activities at a single network location, obviating the requirement for numerous suppliers’ point solutions. Network devices, cloud services, and virtual appliances are all perfect examples of UTM devices.
Securing internet network systems should be a priority for any home or business. Follow this guide to ensure your network and devices, are safe from cyber-attacks. Remember; information is power, protect yours!