Cybersecurity in the home – securing your WiFi router

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19 October 2017

How to secure your wifi router

As part of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we’re bringing you a series of articles to improve your digital security and help you stay safe online.

There’s no better place to start than in your home. In fact, there is one major piece of equipment in your home that is often neglected and an easy target for hackers if not secured — the device that allows you to connect to the internet: the The wireless broadband router.

Router security is often ignored because most consumers assume you only need to secure your digital devices that connect to the router, like your smartphone, desktop or laptop. The truth is that your wireless router needs to be set up and secured just like any other digital device.

Unsecured routers can be compromised by malware or accessed directly by hackers to spy on your personal unencrypted data, redirect your internet traffic to malicious sites and infect multiple devices on your home network.

Here are a few things you can do to secure your wireless home router. Keep in mind each router’s software will vary, so you might need to consult your user manual or the manufacturer’s website for step-by-step instructions.

1. Change your Router Admin and Password

Manufacturers set a default username and password. Leaving them unchanged makes your router extremely easy for hackers to access your network — changing your username and password should be the very first thing you should do. Remember to use a strong and unique password.

2. Change the default Network Name

The default Network SSID or “service set identifier” is assigned by the manufacturer. Some of these SSIDs can help potential attackers identify the type of router, making it easier for them to exploit vulnerabilities. Change the SSID to a unique name that is relevant to you, but remember to avoid any personally identifiable information like your name or address.

3. Use a firewall

Most Routers come with built-in firewalls, preventing unauthorised access to your router and the rest of your home network. Make sure you enable this feature.

4 Disable remote administration

Remote administration allows anyone to access and change your router admin settings from outside of your network. Unless you have some reason or need to use this function, then disable it now.

5. Update your Firmware

The software running on the router that is permanently installed and controls the device hardware is called firmware. Firmware updates are essential to fix certain security vulnerabilities that can be exploited. Unfortunately, most routers won’t update automatically or notify you when firmware updates become available. Check the admin panel on your router for to see if you have the latest version, if not you should download and install the update as soon as possible – check your manufacturer’s website for latest firmware updates and how to install them.

That’s it! Making these simple changes will help you on your way to having a far more secure network and safer digital experience in the home.