You shouldn’t discount the impact of cybercrime on individuals. Crimes like phishing, hacking, and malware deployment can cost individuals their financial security, their peace of mind, and even their reputations. And so many of these crimes begin with poor home network security.
If your home network isn’t secure, hackers can get in and see all of your activity – even your shopping and other financial activity. You need to do everything you can to lock your home network down, or you could become a victim of cyber crime. Follow these steps to protect yourself.
Change Your Wi-Fi Password and SSID
The very first thing you should do when setting up your wireless network is change the service set identifier (SSID) or network name and Wi-Fi password. Don’t put your name, address or other identifying information in your SSID. Choose a strong Wi-Fi password that doesn’t include anyone’s birthday, middle name, maiden name, phone number or other easily guessed information.
Reset Your Router Login Credentials
You need to reset the default login credentials for your router immediately. Anyone can look those default credentials up online just by googling the brand and model of your router, so not changing them leaves you vulnerable to hackers. Navigate to your router settings by typing the device’s IP address into your URL search bar.
Some routers and gateways these days come with apps that allow you to change this information, too. If you aren’t sure what your default login information is, look on the bottom of your router or try searching for it online.
Disable Remote Access to Your Router
Once you have logged into your router’s admin dashboard, you need to disable remote access to the device. This way no one who’s not connected to your wireless network will be able to access the settings. You don’t need to have this enabled unless you have a genuine need to check and adjust your router’s settings while you’re not at home. Look under your router’s admin settings to disable remote access.
Turn on WPA3 Encryption
WPA3 encryption is the most recent encryption protocol for internet traffic. At this point, if your router doesn’t offer WPA3 encryption, it’s time to either try and download a software update that enables it or just buy a new router.
Install Any Router Updates
While you’re in your router’s dashboard, install any firmware updates that may be waiting. Keep your router and other devices up to date, even if downloading and installing new software is annoying. Manufacturers use software updates to release security patches for known issues, so you’re leaving yourself vulnerable unnecessarily if you don’t install updates as soon as they become available.
Set Up a Firewall
Most routers offer the option of firewall protection and Wi-Fi encryption to block unsafe traffic coming into your network and stop hackers from spying on your online activity. It’s not a bad idea to use a reputable security suite to protect your devices from malware and hacking. You can usually get trials of products from reputable manufacturers like Trend Micro, so you can try different security suites before you commit.
Verify Your Connected Devices
You should always be aware of which devices are connecting to your network. If you notice a suspicious device connecting to your network, disconnect it and change your Wi-Fi password to lock out potential hackers. If you end up accidentally locking out your robot vacuum, you can always add it back.
Create a Separate Wi-Fi for Guests and IoT devices
You might be surprised to learn that many Internet of Things (IoT) devices aren’t secure – there are so many of these devices and so many of them come from obscure manufacturers, some of which may not even exist anymore six months or a year after you’ve purchased their item. That is to say, they’re not all getting regular firmware updates and many don’t have operating software robust enough to support a security framework. Hackers may be able to easily access these devices and get into your network through them.
To prevent this, you should set up a separate network for guests and IoT devices. That way, if someone breaks into one of your IoT devices, it won’t matter, because it won’t be on your main network with your laptops and phones. You’ll also be able to keep guests – and any malware their devices may be carrying – off your personal network and away from your sensitive data.
Is your home network secure? Chances are it isn’t, especially if you’ve done nothing to make it so. Lock your network down, and protect your family and finances from cyber criminals.