How to Secure your Wireless Router

Your wireless router is the gateway to your entire home network. Hackers with malicious intentions can gain access to the devices and data on your network through your router. Therefore, securing your wireless router is the first step to securing your entire network. While this can get quite complicated if you’re really concerned about security, there are a few basic steps that can go a long way.

1. Change the default password to your router’s admin panel.

When you get your new router home, the first thing you should do is to access the router admin panel and change its password. These passwords are often identical for entire product lines making them a significant vulnerability, especially since they’re often printed on stickers on the bottom of these routers.

2. Make sure that remote router management isn’t enabled.

Remote management is an option that allows the admin panel of your router to be accessed from the Internet. For a home network, remote management is rarely necessary and offers hackers another opportunity to get into your router. Unless you absolutely have to access the admin panel from outside your own network, I recommend that you disable this option.

3. Change your SSID or network name.

The SSID is the name that is broadcast so people can find your network. Often, the default SSID that your router broadcasts gives away the made and sometimes even the model of the router. Knowing your router’s model allows hackers to exploit any known vulnerabilities it might have.

4. Enable WPA2 encryption and disable WPS.

Encrypting the data that’s transmitted over your network is essential for security. Most router models offer you a few options but you should select WP2 and set a strong password using lower and uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Of course, it’s also important that you choose a password that you can remember.

WPS is a little-used feature that makes your router more vulnerable. For this reason, I recommend disabling it and leaving it disabled.

5. Keep your router firmware up to date.

Your router comes with preinstalled software, called firmware, that manages the traffic and administrative features of the device. Like with other software, hackers often find and exploit security vulnerabilities in this software. By releasing updates to the firmware, router manufacturers patch these vulnerabilities. Therefore, it’s important that you log into your router’s admin panel on a regular basis and update the firmware.

Now that you know what you need to do, you’re probably wondering how to do it. Since every router is different, I recommend consulting your router manual. If you’ve misplaced the manual, you should be able to find it online by searching the router make and model. With all that being said, once you’re in the admin panel you should be able to find all the options I mentioned by clicking around a bit.

By Mike Agerbo

October 25, 2016