We here at Jon.ie love wireless communication technologies. The freedom that it allows us from our wireless audio systems to wireless internet access that extends around the home. However wireless internet connections come with some security vulnerabilities that you don’t see with wired connections. But don’t fear we’re here to help. We have some basic yet essential steps that you can implement to keep any potential attackers at bay.
1 – Change the default SSID.
What’s an SSID you might ask? Well, it stands for Service Set Identifier. When you plug in your router that is supplied to you by your ISP (Internet Service Provider), it will come with a default network name which is broadcasted to the outside world.
When you want to connect your laptop, phone, games consoles or tablet, etc. to the wireless network you click on your network name or SSID. Now, while this doesn’t just allow attackers onto your home network connection, it can give them valuable information, for example, the manufacturer of your router or who your service provider is. When picking your SSID don’t include any personal information that identifies you.
It is also good practice to change the SSID regularly. But it can be annoying. Each time you change your SSID, you must reconnect each device to the wireless network again.
2 – Change Default Credentials.
All routers will come with a default username and password. If you purchase a new router from your local IT store or if your ISP supplies it, it doesn’t matter it will have a default username and password. Let’s change that straight away. In fact, some manufacturers will force you to modify the default password before you can even log in to configure your router.
The default username’s and passwords are publically available on the internet. Different manufacturers will use different credentials, and the reason they’re publically available is that if you ever need to troubleshoot your hardware, it might need to be reset to the factory default settings.
Not changing these settings can be very dangerous and allow somebody who has physical access to your device to make whatever changes they wish. It could also allow them to remotely connect to your router if your encryption has been compromised but more on that next.
3 – Encryption Standards.
All routers will offer different encryption standards. You will want to pick a standard that provides the best level of security but also one that’s supported by all the devices that connected to your network router.
If you take away anything from this article, it’s, please use the best encryption standard that’s available to you. It’s crucial in locking down your home wireless network.
WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) is an old standard so don’t use it. What you want to be looking for is WPA2, or you may see WPA2-PSK. If you don’t see these options maybe it’s time for a router upgrade!
Remember to make this password a good one. It’s what you’ll be entering on all your devices to connect to the net. We recommend a mix of Upper, Lower, Numeric and special characters.
4 – Disable Remote Administration.
If you don’t plan on managing your router while you’re away from home turn off remote administration function when outside the LAN (Local Area Network) if it’s an option on your device.
If it’s enabled, you can enter the public IP address of your device and reach it from any location in the world via a web-based management interface. It’s a handy feature for the small business that requires troubleshooting done on the device, but for the average home user, it is not a requirement. If you see Remote Administration support in the settings, disable it. If it is something that you will require consider a VPN (Virtual Private Network) instead.
5 – Update your hardware firmware.
It’s good practice to check for firmware upgrades regularly. Every couple of weeks or so will be okay. Vulnerabilities are continually found and when they are just like with Operating Systems updates patches are released to close down the exploit. It’s worth nothing some routers will check for firmware upgrades automatically. You can check the manufacturer’s website for details on the lasted firmware releases for your particular model.
I hope that you have found some of these basic steps of use. Nobody wants to share their internet connection with the neighbours (one would assume), and indeed, we don’t want anybody eavesdropping on our web connectivity. By implementing these steps outlined here, you will significantly decrease your chances of becoming a victim.
Happy and safe surfing!