Last week, we talked about keeping yourself safe while using a public, unsecured Wi-Fi connection. The reason using a public Wi-Fi can be unsafe is because other people on that same connection could be monitoring your traffic and activity. The connection is unsecure, so it’s impossible to control who else is accessing the network.
When it comes to your home Wi-Fi network, you might understandably feel safer. However, the default settings that many people leave on their network can leave them just as vulnerable as on an unsecure network. If you have a generic password on your network and router settings account, someone else could easily access your network—or even your router to kick you off—since most generic passwords for routers are the same.
Here are a few ways that you can secure your home Wi-Fi connection to keep your browsing private and safe.
Change the Default Name and Password of the Network
Your network’s name, or SSID (service set identifier), is usually by default some variation of the router’s product name and version number. This makes it very easy for someone to identify the type of router you have, which, in turn, makes it easy to find out what the default password is for your network and your router settings account—they’re the same across products. If you haven’t changed your network’s SSID and password, do so now. Learn more about creating a secure password here. Do not use any personal information like family names for the SSID.
Log Into Wireless Router Settings
If you’ve never logged into your wireless router, you still have the default IP address, account name, and password. This is generic across everyone’s accounts until you change it to something unique. In fact, in order to sign on to your account for the first time, you can just look up the make and model of your router. It will give you the default IP address, username, and password. To log on, open your internet browser and type in http:// followed by your IP address. For example, if your default IP address is 192.168.1.1, you will want to enter http://192.168.1.1 in your address bar. Use the default login information to sign in. Your first order of business will be to change this login information in order to secure your account so that other people cannot access your router settings.
Change Important Default Settings
Now that you’ve logged into your settings page, here are some things you should change.
- Change your default IP address. You can change it to anything you want. Each number just needs to be between 1 and 254. Once you change it, remember that you will need to use this new address to access the router settings.
- Enable Encryption. WPA2 encryption is ideal, but if that isn’t an option for your router, you can use WEP. The latter is less secure, but some older routers do not have WPA2.
- Turn off remote management or access.
- Disable Upnp.
- Turn off guest networking
This seems like a trivial step, but it’s important. Remember to logout of the account to make sure that no one else can access these settings. Do it as soon as you are finished configuring your router in case your computer is compromised.