Home networks are becoming more and more common as people use various devices to access the internet, such as computers, smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, voice assistants, and even appliances. However, having a home network also means having potential risks of cyberattacks, data breaches, identity theft, and other online threats. Hackers can exploit vulnerable networks to carry out malicious activities such as installing malware, stealing personal information, or creating botnets.
Therefore, it is essential to secure your home network and protect your devices and data from unauthorized access. In this blog post, we will share some tips on how to set up a secure home network and what steps you can take to enhance your online safety.
Change the name and password of your network
The first step in securing your home network is to change the name and password of your network. The name of your network is also known as the SSID (Service Set Identifier), which is the identifier that routers broadcast so nearby devices can find available networks. The password of your network is the key that allows devices to connect to your network.
By default, most routers come with generic names and passwords that are easy to guess by hackers or anyone who knows the manufacturer or model of your router. For example, some routers may have names like “NETGEAR” or “Linksys” and passwords like “admin” or “password”. These default settings can expose your network to attacks and make it easier for hackers to access your router’s management interface and change its settings.
Therefore, you should change the name and password of your network as soon as possible. You can do this by logging into your router’s management interface through your browser using the default IP address (usually found on the bottom sticker of your router or in the set-up guide). Then, you can change the SSID and password under the wireless settings section.
When choosing a new name and password for your network, you should follow these guidelines:
- Choose a name that does not reveal the brand or model of your router or any personal information about you or your location. For example, avoid names like “John’s Router” or “Apartment 5B”.
- Choose a password that is at least 12 characters long and contains a mix of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using common words, phrases, or personal information that can be easily guessed or cracked by hackers.
- Change your password regularly (every six months or so) to prevent hackers from breaking into your network.
Encrypt your network
The second step in securing your home network is to encrypt your network. Encryption is a process that scrambles the information sent through your network so that only authorized devices can read it. This prevents hackers from intercepting or snooping on your online activities or stealing your personal data.
To encrypt your network, you need to update your router settings to use either WPA3 Personal or WPA2 Personal encryption. These are the latest and most secure encryption standards available for wireless networks. They require every device that connects to your network to submit a password before accessing it.
You can enable encryption by logging into your router’s management interface and selecting the wireless security option. There, you can choose either WPA3 Personal or WPA2 Personal as the encryption type and enter the same password that you use for your network.
If you have an older router that does not support WPA3 Personal or WPA2 Personal encryption, you may see other options such as WPA or WEP. These are outdated and insecure encryption standards that can be easily cracked by hackers. If these are the only options available on your router, you should consider updating your router software or getting a new router that supports WPA3 Personal or WPA2 Personal encryption.
Update your router software
The third step in securing your home network is to update your router software. Router software (also known as firmware) is the program that controls how your router operates and communicates with other devices. Router software may contain bugs or vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to gain access to your network or compromise its performance.
Therefore, you should check for updates regularly and install them as soon as they are available. Updating your router software can fix existing issues, improve security features, and protect your network from new threats.
You can check for updates by logging into your router’s management interface
and finding the firmware update option. There, you can check if there are any available updates for your router and download them to your computer. Then, you can upload the update file to your router and apply it. The process may vary depending on your router model, so you should refer to your router’s manual or website for detailed instructions.
Note: Updating your router software may cause your network to disconnect temporarily. Make sure you save any important work before you start the update. Also, do not turn off your router or computer during the update process, as this may damage your router.
Use a firewall and antivirus software
The fourth step in securing your home network is to use a firewall and antivirus software on your devices. A firewall is a software or hardware device that monitors and filters the incoming and outgoing traffic on your network. It can block unauthorized or malicious connections and prevent hackers from accessing your devices or data.
Antivirus software is a program that scans and removes viruses, malware, spyware, and other harmful software from your devices. It can also protect you from phishing, ransomware, identity theft, and other online threats.
Most routers have a built-in firewall that you can enable or disable through the management interface. You can also install firewall software on your computer or use the one that comes with your operating system (such as Windows Defender Firewall or Mac Firewall).
You should also install reputable antivirus software on your computer and other devices that support it. You can choose from various free or paid options available online, such as Kaspersky, Norton, McAfee, Avast, etc. Make sure you keep your firewall and antivirus software updated and run regular scans to detect and remove any threats.
Disable remote access and UPnP
The fifth step in securing your home network is to disable remote access and UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) features on your router. Remote access allows you to access your router’s settings from anywhere using the internet. UPnP allows devices on your network to automatically discover and communicate with each other without any configuration.
While these features may seem convenient, they can also pose security risks for your network. Remote access can expose your router to hackers who can try to log into it using brute force attacks or guesswork. UPnP can create open ports on your router that hackers can exploit to access your devices or data.
Therefore, you should disable these features unless you really need them. You can do this by logging into your router’s management interface and finding the remote access or UPnP options under the advanced settings section. Uncheck the boxes or toggle the switches to turn them off.
Create a guest network
The sixth step in securing your home network is to create a guest network for visitors or devices that do not need full access to your network. A guest network is a separate network that uses a different name and password from your main network. It allows guests to connect to the internet without accessing your devices or data on your main network.
Creating a guest network can help you prevent unauthorized users from accessing your network or spreading malware to your devices. It can also help you isolate devices that are not secure or updated, such as smart home gadgets, gaming consoles, printers, etc.
You can create a guest network by logging into your router’s management interface and finding the guest network option under the wireless settings section. Enable the guest network feature and choose a name and password for it. You can also set some restrictions for the guest network, such as limiting the number of devices, bandwidth, or time of access.
Securing your home network is not a one-time task but an ongoing process that requires regular maintenance and vigilance. By following these tips, you can improve the security of your home network and protect yourself from online threats.
However, you should also be aware of other factors that can affect your online safety, such as using strong passwords, avoiding phishing emails, browsing securely with HTTPS, etc. For more information on how to stay safe online, check out our other blog posts on cybersecurity topics.