How to Keep Your Home WiFi Safe

High speed internet has given us instant access to a world of information that previously would have required intense research and poring through extensive libraries and databases. It’s also opened up our private info to criminals and bad actors who can use our personal information to drain our bank accounts and destroy our credit. We can’t keep everything fully secure, but there are things we can do to substantially reduce our chances of becoming victims of cyber crimes.

Learning how to secure home WiFi is an important part of keeping all your personal information safe and out of the hands of those who would use it inappropriately. Let’s look at why network protection is important, as well as how to protect WiFi networks in our own homes.

Why is it Important to Protect a WiFi Network?

Some of us have become accustomed to the fact that privacy has taken a back seat to safety, but there are some instances where safety is dependent upon privacy. Your residential internet network is one of those instances. So, what is a home WiFi network, exactly?

Basically, your home network consists of all the devices that you use in your home that connect to the internet and each other. This may consist of computers, smartphones, tablets, printers, appliances, gaming systems, and wearable devices. Almost anything you connect to the internet inside your home is a part of your home network.

Networks used to be connected primarily through hard-wired connections, but as technology has evolved, most of our network devices now connect wirelessly. This is an incredibly helpful advancement as far as convenience and ease of access are concerned, but it creates new ways for hackers to get in and compromise your data. Let’s look at how to secure home WiFi networks so you can surf safely. 

How to Secure My WiFi Router at Home

Securing your home network is pretty simple once you understand where the risks come from and how to neutralize them. There are a number of ways to protect wireless networks that you can easily implement at home, even if you aren’t particularly tech-savvy. Here’s how to secure home WiFi networks easily. 

Update your Firmware

As online threats get more and more sophisticated, it’s important that you keep all your equipment up to date. Since your router is essentially the front door that connects your devices to the world wide web, its firmware is one of the most important things to keep current. 

Updating your firmware gives your router the best chance of keeping bad actors out. It patches vulnerabilities and fixes bugs that might allow a nosy neighbor or cybercriminal to gain easy access. New bugs and vulnerabilities are discovered nearly every day, so updating regularly will shore up your protection. When learning how to secure home WiFi networks, this ranks up top.

Update Software

Corrupted software is another possible weak spot in your internet armor. When hackers identify vulnerabilities in a software’s code, it allows them to do things they shouldn’t. Keeping your software up to date is a great way to patch known vulnerabilities. 

Update your software regularly. Most devices allow you to automatically update software whenever a new version is released. Turning on that function will ensure that you are always using the most current and protected version of the software.

router firewall

Update your Router’s Password

If you’ve been using the same password on your router for a long time, it’s a good idea to update it. Simple passwords that use fairly common words, numbers, and special characters can be easy to guess and don’t protect you, and your information, as well as more complex ones do. 

The best option for creating a strong password is utilizing a random string of nonconsecutive letters and numbers. But those can be hard to remember, and lots of people shy away from them because they don’t want to dig through their list of passwords every time a guest needs to log on. Luckily, your devices will remember the password for you, and a guest network cuts the need to pull out your password page every time friends come over.

Change the Password Frequently

If you want an added layer of protection, try changing your router’s password a little more frequently. Once a month is a good interval, and if you’ve got lots of guests using your WiFi due to large gatherings or having work done on your house, you may want to change it even more often. If you’re using a password that you’re also using for your login on an app or website, it’s especially important to change it in case your passwords are compromised as part of a data breach.

Use a VPN on Your Router

If you’ve ever used a VPN to protect your data and location or to get unrestricted access to the internet on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, you already know what kind of benefits they deliver. Using a VPN on your router provides network encryption, so every connected device is protected. Using a VPN to hide your IP address and encrypt your data creates a private place to surf the web, away from prying eyes.

Keep a Guest Network for Visitors

If you regularly have guests signing onto your WiFi, it’s a good idea to keep an available guest network for them to use. Most of the time, your visitors are just trying to get online and use their apps without burning data or dealing with a slow cell signal, so there’s no reason they need to log into your personal network, with all your devices and data visible. A guest network combines solid WiFi protection with an easy way for guests to log on.

Turn Off Universal Plug and Play

The Internet of Things runs on a set of networking protocols known as Universal Plug and Play or UPnP. Universal Plug and Play allows your devices to talk to one another and enables all the convenient features we’ve come to rely upon. On the other hand, it can create a vulnerability you don’t need. Turn off your Universal Plug and Play feature to protect all the smart devices on your network. 

Turn off Remote Management

There shouldn’t be many reasons you need remote access to manage your account, so it’s a good idea to turn off your router’s remote management feature. When you give yourself access from any location around the world, you also make it possible for others to access and make changes to your home network. Turning the function off will likely have little impact on your everyday internet needs but will have a large impact as far as protecting yourself online.

Place your Router in a Central Location

Proper router placement not only allows you to get reliably fast internet speeds in every room in the house but by choosing the correct size router for your home and placing it in a central location prevents your WiFi signal from being broadcast all over the neighborhood. If it isn’t visible, you’re less likely to deal with a break in.

Turn on the Firewall

Firewalls have been an important part of keeping networks safe for years, and that hasn’t changed in the new century. Firewalls are meant to prevent unauthorized users from accessing your account and data. Your router firewall allows you, your family, and guests to safely surf the web while keeping others out. If you haven’t yet set up your firewall to 

Hiding Your SSID

There is some disagreement when it comes to the practice of hiding your SSID or service set identifier and whether or not it actually helps keep your account secure. When we hide our SSID, our network doesn’t broadcast its presence to the neighborhood and won’t show up when people search for a list of available networks. We can still sign on, but we need to know the name and type the login info manually. This may cause more headaches than it’s worth. For a better option when you’re looking for how to secure home WiFi, try changing your SSID.

Change your SSID

A better option than hiding your SSID is to change the name. If your SSID includes the name and model number of your router, it can be easy for hackers to gain access to your router and everything on your network. This is especially true if you’ve never changed your password from the default password, which is often simply “admin.” Strong passwords are an essential part of securing wireless networks, so make sure yours isn’t opening you up to fraud.

How to Secure Home WiFi

Now that you know a little more about how to secure home WiFi, you can take the necessary steps to keep your family safe and rest easy knowing your data and privacy are protected with a secure internet connection

Choosing the right provider helps too. Top internet providers like 24-7 & West Wisconsin Telcom can deliver security features that provide an additional level of protection against online threats. Reach out to see how we can help.