How to securely set up your home Wi-Fi router
Authored by a Symantec employee
Wireless Internet access is one of the modern conveniences of our time. However, your home wireless router can also be an access point for hackers. If your Wi-Fi router isn’t secured properly, you could be letting anyone with a wireless-enabled device gain access to your home network. That means you’re opening up your emails, banking information, and maybe even details of your smart home’s daily schedule to criminals.
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Basic Wireless Security
Every router should have a password to keep out the bad guys. Some routers come with default passwords, but you should change these during setup. Creating a new password for your wireless router is easy. Almost anyone can do it, and it will only take a couple of minutes. Specific instructions vary from one router to another, but the basic idea is this:
1. All wireless routers have a numerical address. If you’ve lost the instructions, you can probably find yours by searching online for your router’s model number.
2. In Security Settings, create a name for the router, and a password, and then select a type of encryption (more below). Do not name your router something that can easily be associated with you, such as your last name.
3. Make sure you choose a strong password that you can remember, but one that’s not easy to guess.
4. Don’t forget to save the updated information when prompted. Your router is now secured from roaming hackers.
Different Types of Encryption
Depending on your router, you might have options for different kinds of encryption. The major ones for commercial routers include:
- Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP): This is the oldest and most popular form of router encryption available. However, it is the least secure of all encryption protocols.
- Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA): The Wi-Fi Alliance came up with WPA to offer an encryption protocol without the shortcomings of WEP. This is also a less secure form of encryption, partly because of legacy hardware and firmware that still used WEP as their main protocol. However, it is a significant improvement over WEP.
- Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2): This is the most secure and most recent form of encryption available. You should always select WPA2 if it is available.
- Advanced Encryption Standard: When possible, you’ll want to use AES on top of WPA2 or WPA. This is the same type of encryption used by the federal government to secure classified information. Routers made after 2006 should have the option to enable this on top of WPA2.
Moreover, a good full-service Internet security suite will come with a firewall, giving you an added layer of protection.
Setting up security for your wireless network doesn’t take much time at all and will do much to protect you from hackers. Even if you don’t have any neighbors you want to prevent from borrowing your Wi-Fi, you’ll be protecting yourself from more dangerous snoops. Especially now that so many homes are connected and various devices are using Wi-Fi, you’ll be wise to protect all of the information those devices contain. Don’t take any chances. Just a few minutes of selecting the right home Wi-Fi settings can mean all the difference to your connected world.
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