Tuesday, September 28, 2021
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How to Secure Your Home Office Wi-Fi Router

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Your home business is only as secure as your Wi-Fi router. Anyone within range of your network with sufficient knowledge could connect to it. So how can you secure your Wi-Fi router to avoid the risk?

What Happens If Someone Manages to Connect to Your Router?

They will have access to all of the data that travels through your router. (They do this with packet sniffing software.)

Network admins use this software to analyze information packets sent over a network and resolve network issues. Individuals with malicious intent can use it to see user traffic and get access to the passwords you use for things like your online banking. 

The packet sniffer only works if it is connected to the same network. 

So, if you secure your Wi-Fi router sufficiently enough, your home business will be safe from these attacks. Here are five ways to make sure nobody without access can connect to it:

1. Get Familiar with Router Settings

It’s hard to secure your Wi-Fi router if you have no idea what any of the settings mean. 

The most important things to know are the following:

  • How to set up the router login credentials
  • Wi-Fi network passkey and encryption options
  • DNS changing options 

Also, know how to check for firmware updates and do a factory reset if you suspect your router was hacked

Different routers will have different user interfaces once you are logged in, but ALL of them will give you access to the settings you need to address. 

2. Login Credentials and Wi-Fi Passkey

Change the factory set router login credentials and standard Wi-Fi password as soon as you turn on your router. Use complex passwords that follow strong password best practices

This means using words and phrases that can’t easily be guessed (no important names, dates, places), and are jumbled with use of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special symbols. Ideally, aim for at least 12 character passwords. 

3. Choose the Right Encryption Method

You can choose between a few different encryption options to secure your Wi-Fi router: WEP, WPA, or WPA2. 

How much does it matter which one you choose? It matters a lot. 

WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) encrypted Wi-Fi networks are an easy target because their keys are short (only 64-bit and 128-bit). The shorter the key, the less computing power is needed to crack it. Anyone with free or open code software will crack them in minutes. 

It might seem crazy that such software is readily available to anyone when you consider it can be used for malicious intent, but remember that it’s also used for security audits. If you’re sufficiently tech-savvy, you can easily test the strength of your encryption yourself with some of those tools. 

WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) was developed to battle the issues of WEP, with keys being longer (256-bit) and included message integrity tests to see if any data packets were changed by hackers using security audit software to get access. 

The WPA protocol came with WPS – Wi-Fi Protected Setup that enables connecting with a simple PIN code instead of a password. This was the point of entry for hackers, not the protocol itself. 

WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access II) was the successor that is much tougher to crack when you combine it with other security precautions but still has the same WPS vulnerability. 

WPA3 (Wi-Fi Protected Access III) is the next iteration that will be rolled out soon but not before some of its latest security flaws are addressed properly. 

Your best option right now is to use WPA2 encryption with WPS disabled. 

4. Disable UPnP Settings

You can secure your Wi-Fi router by disabling the Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) option in its settings. 

UPnP is a set of protocols that helps all devices that are connected to the same network to discover one another and communicate and share data. 

For example, if you connect a printer wirelessly, UPnP ensures all other devices can use it immediately. 

The biggest security flaw with UPnP is that there is no additional authentication – it works with the assumption that all devices are safe. If someone connects an infected device to your network, every other device is susceptible to a breach too. 

5. Have a Separate Network for Visitors and Guests

The more devices connected to your Wi-Fi, the higher the chances of a breach, especially if these devices store your Wi-Fi password. Guests and visitors will often ask you to give them the Wi-Fi password. If their devices are compromised, yours will be too.

You can secure your Wi-Fi router by using a Guest Wi-Fi option that creates a separate access point to your router. 

When somebody connects through your Guest Wi-Fi, they will have a fully separate channel for all network communication, which means they will never have access to any data packets that your devices are sending or receiving, or the devices on your main network.

Learn More about Network Security

Network security, in general, is a complex subject, but knowing the basics can help you secure your Wi-Fi router and home network. If you wish to learn more about increasing cybersecurity for your home office, we would be happy to help guide you.

Starting my career in Information Technology at 19, I have over 13 years of experience supporting businesses and individuals of all sizes with their IT solutions. I'm the guy that helps friends of friends of friends to fix your PC or get you back up and running again. My passion is helping people to feel confident in their technology and see that lightbulb moment where they understand and know for next time. Across my career, my favourite roles have always been those which are hands-on with people. Whether that's training, or support I've done everything from a technical aspect. In Smiley Geeks I make sure you can understand your technology and give you a helping hand when you don't!

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