By Maile Timon
Whether you want to update your security settings or install a new wireless network in your home, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. You may be thinking “how hard can it be?” and you’re right, setting up a network is pretty straightforward. Rushing through the setup process, however, can leave your network unsecured and make you vulnerable to online threats. You want your WiFi to be fast and safe so you and your family can use the Internet and your connected devices, but you also want to protect yourself against cyber criminals and hackers. Follow these steps to setup a secure wireless network.
Change the Default Settings
Wireless routers come with predetermined settings like the name and password. The name or Service Set Identifier (SSID) usually has the router brand name, for example: Linksys0100, Netgear1211, Asus0019, etc. Cybersecurity experts recommend changing your SSID for security reasons. Cybercriminals are more likely to prey on wireless networks with default names because they assume the users have not modified the security settings. “The real reason to change the default SSID is so that you don’t appear to be technically clueless,” advises Michael Horowitz from Router Security. “Anyone who has not changed the default network name is immediately pegged as a non-techie whose defenses are likely to be poor. There might as well be a ‘hack me’ sign on the network.”
Changing your SSID is also more convenient, you’re less likely to confuse your network with one with a similar name. Follow these steps to access your router’s settings and change your SSID.
Create Strong Passwords
You should change your network password right away when you setup your router. If you skipped this step initially, go into your security settings and change it now. Default passwords can be easy to hack, especially if someone is using a password cracking tool. Strong passwords use capital and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. Try to come up with a password that is between 12 and 14 characters. Also, avoid using “dictionary words” or anything obvious that someone who knows you would be able to guess.
For maximum security, follow these password guidelines for all of your online accounts. You should also enable two-factor authentication for any accounts where you store personal information. Two-factor authentication requires an extra step or piece of information (like an access code sent to your phone or a security question) to access your accounts. It’s an easy way to another layer of security to protect your accounts.
Encrypt Your Network
Encryption technology scrambles messages sent over wireless networks so that they cannot be easily read by humans. Essentially, encrypting your network lets you keep your data safe or hidden from prying eyes. Most routers offer some amount of encryption, WPA, WPE or WPA2.
Access your administrator settings and check the options for your model. If you have the option, select WPA2, it provides the most protection. If you have an older router, you may have to upgrade your software.
Follow these tips to keep your network and your data safe. While you can’t prevent every cyber attack, you will have much more peace of mind knowing you enabled these important safety features. Encourage your family to follow best practices online and check with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) about additional security options for your devices and network.
Maile Timon is a professional blogger and content editor. She writes on lifestyle and family, health and fitness, business, education, how to and more. Maile earned her Bachelor’s in Broadcast Journalism from Chapman University. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking in San Diego, CA. To see more of her articles, follow Maile on Twitter