The smarter home: What is a router? And how to secure your home wireless router

Authored by a Symantec employee


To access the Internet wirelessly you’ll need a device called a router. A router isn’t crucial if the only connection you have to the Internet is a desktop computer. However, we live in a world where people are increasingly connected all the time, via their laptop, their smartphone, or a tablet. What’s more, the Internet of Things (IoT) proves that almost everything can be connected — refrigerators, wearables, even cars. If you don’t already have a router, you’ll probably need one soon. So what is a router and how do you secure one?

As hot new gadgets make our homes smarter, they’re also making them more vulnerable.

With more of our devices connecting to the Internet – smart TVs, webcams, gaming consoles, thermostats – it’s crucial to have a good defense plan for your home network.

Help protect all of your personal devices connected to your home network, not just your laptop or desktop computer, with Norton Core.

Routers 101

A router actually refers to two different types of devices:

A broadband router is a device that takes a high-speed Internet connection and optimizes it. The router determines the best route to transmit data over the Internet, which makes for a significantly faster connection than a traditional modem. You might have a broadband router even if you’re using a wired device, such as a Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) phone.

A wireless router does what a broadband router does — makes a high-speed Internet connection better and faster. It also transmits the signal into the air so you can use the Internet without a cable. Any computer within range of your wireless router’s signal can connect, which is why it’s absolutely imperative to secure your wireless connection.

Securing your wireless connection

If you have a wireless router but haven’t secured it, you need to. Otherwise, your wireless home network could fall prey to hackers. Securing your wireless network is a lot easier than you probably think. In less than ten minutes you can have a secure wireless network that will have hackers looking for an easier target.

There are a few simple steps you can take to secure your wireless connection:

  1. MAC filtering lets you white-list devices that can use your network. Anything that’s not on your list can’t access your wireless network. This provides a layer of protection, but it can be unwieldy. For example, if a friend comes over and wants to use your wireless network, you’ll need to log in to your router to add them.
  2. Password protection makes it so that no one can access your wireless router without your network’s password. It’s important to choose a password you won’t forget and that’s also difficult to guess. You should also use WPA2 and AES encryption for your router whenever possible, as these provide the highest level of protection for your wireless network.
  3. Disabling SSID broadcasting makes it harder for people to see that your wireless network exists at all. For the most part, it’s not going to fool hardcore hackers and it might make adding new devices to the network difficult. That said, it can still provide another layer of protection.
  4. Virtual private networks (VPNs) can add yet another layer of protection, encrypting all the information that is sent and received by the devices connected to your wireless network. Norton WiFi Privacy works with multiple devices, such as desktops, laptops, and mobile devices.
  5. Full-service Internet security suites do more than just protect against viruses. They also keep your network safe from more exotic forms of malware, as well as provide a firewall that makes it harder for hackers to gain access to your network. When you’re using the Internet, products such as Norton Security Premium are absolutely essential.

Securing your router is easy. With the help of a full-service Internet security suite, you can make your home network safe from the likes of common hackers.

689 million people across 21 countries were the victims of cybercrime last year. Is your smart home leaving the door open?

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