Securing your Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi signal can be accessed outside your home making the Internet riskier and your sensitive personal information more vulnerable. 

With the current pandemic conditions and more people working from home, learning how to secure your Wi-Fi network is in your best interest. Although you may have antivirus software installed you may not be aware of security risks that Wi-Fi routers pose.

The security risk of a Wi-Fi network  is that it can be accessed from a distance. Most people do not secure or change the settings of their routers except for the initial set up. The default security settings on most routers tend to leave connections vulnerable and it is essential to secure your Wi-Fi router to prevent sophisticated hackers from compromising your privacy.

With the advancement of technology, cybersecurity is gaining prominence since cybercriminals are also becoming more skilled with advanced techniques. Recent data breaches of Zoom, the video conferencing platform, and concerns about social media platforms the need for cybersecurity is increasing. With online banking and purchasing on an unsecured Wi-Fi network, a sophisticated hacker may be able to access your sensitive financial information while it is transmitted over the network.

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Additionally, with the Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices used in households, security risks are even more of a concern. This is because IoT devices store private data, and security breaches can have a devastating effect on IoT devices.

Even with a good antivirus software installed, a Wi-Fi router can be secured using the following simple methods. 

Change your network’s SSID name

The SSID which stands for Service Set Identifier is a unique ID that consists of 32 characters and is used for naming wireless networks which is usually pre-defined as the brand name of your router. Changing this default name makes it difficult for hackers to know what type of router you have and its specific vulnerabilities. To change the SSID name follow these steps:

  1. Log into your router’s web interface or app as Administrator.
  2. Go to the ‘Wi-Fi settings’ page of your router or its equivalent. 
  3. Look for the SSID name in your settings. It would typically be somewhere in the basic settings page. Common labels for the SSID name include “Network Name,” “Wireless Network Name,” “Router Name” or something similar.
  4. Click on the name in the field. it and enter a new name. Do not to use your name, your address or any personal information in the SSID name.
  5. Save the settings and restart your router.

Updating firmware

Your router’s firmware plays a major role in your Wi-Fi network security but unfortunately most routers do not have an auto-update option. Even if they do, the option must be manually enabled. It is better to check for updates regularly and install them. To update the firmware, follow these steps:

  1. Connect your computer to the router using an Ethernet cable (usually required) and log into its web interface or app as administrator.
  2. Select the “Firmware Update” option on the interface. You need to look for it, as this option can be anywhere in the settings.
  3. Wait until your router finds and installs the latest update. When done, restart the router.

Using a firewall

There are two types of firewalls: Software Firewalls, which run on your PC, providing security against suspicious applications and programs, and Hardware Firewalls, which provide the first line of defense against attacks.  To activate the built-in firewall of your router, follow these steps:

  1. Check if your router has a built-in firewall, by logging into its web interface or application as Administrator and look for a configuration page labelled “Security” or “Firewall.” 
  2. If your router does not come with a firewall, you can install a good firewall device to your router to protect your system from malicious hacking attempts. 
  3. If your router does have a firewall, enable the firewall, by going to the “Security” or “Firewall” page and select the button near it labelled “enable” or “activate”, or something similar. Save the settings and restart the router.

How to kick people off your Wi-Fi

If someone gained access to your Wi-Fi network, they would continue to freeload which can cause all sorts of problems or if the intruder malicious, they could be using your Wi-Fi for illegal purposes. If you suspect someone of freeloading, change your Wi-Fi password which will forcibly disconnect all devices from the network. If it is a hacker, you can further reduce the risk of them hacking into your network again by changing your router’s SSID name as well. 

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