Wireless networks, commonly known as WIFI, have made it possible and much easier for people to access the internet without having cables connected around their devices. However, this convenience and ease of use usually come at the expense of security; it is way easier for cybercriminals to hijack a WIFI network than a cable network.
If you are using wireless networks at your home or office, it is necessary to take some extra steps to make it hard or even impossible for cybercriminals to get access. In this article, I want to discuss what you can do to safely browse the internet using your WIFI network. Let’s dive in!
Why secure your WIFI?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of what you need to do to secure your WIFI, let me first share some of the reasons why it is important to add some extra layer of security to your WIFI networks.
- To safeguard your devices against malware: Cybercriminals take advantage of unsecured wireless networks to distribute malware and ransomware on people’s devices.
- To protect unauthorized access of the data on our devices: If someone is spying on you, it is possible to get access to the data on your devices if they are connected to the WIFI network you are using.
- Most routers don’t have tight security settings by default: After unboxing your WIFI router, setting it up is usually pretty easy. However, its default security settings prioritize performance over security. So, if you want to enhance your security, you will have to change a couple of these default settings.
- We rely on the internet to do almost everything: As ambient computing and IoT become a new normal in our homes and offices, almost every device (even those that store sensitive data about our lives) we use is connected to the internet. Safeguarding all these devices will require you to take extra measures that will enhance your security.
Safeguarding your WIFI
Now that we know why it is important to keep our WIFI secure let me share with you some reliable ways to enhance the security of wireless networks.
Change the router SSID name
SSID stands for Service Set Identifier, and it is the unique name that identifies any given wireless network. In simple terms, SSID is the name of your router network. The default name usually bears the name of the brand that makes that router. Changing this name makes it difficult for hackers to know the type of router you are using.
If hackers don’t know the brand or type of router you are using, it becomes more complicated to know the security loopholes it has. To change your router SSID name, follow these simple steps.
- Connect your device to the router network and log into the browser interface or app of the router as an administrator.
- Go to the settings of your router and look for the SSID name. Depending on the manufacturer, the SSID name could be written as “network name,” “Router Name,” “Router network name,” or anything similar.
- Change the name to a new name that makes it harder to guess the router manufacturer. Use a random name that doesn’t bear your personal information or give the hackers any hint about the type of router you are using.
Use a strong password
You need to use a password that is very hard for anyone to guess. In this case, you need to avoid passwords that bear your name, the network name, or the common easy-to-guess passwords like “12345”. Make sure the password you create has at least 20 characters that are a combination of small letters, capital letters, numbers, and symbols.
I recommend creating your password using WPA2 encryption. It is the most secure encryption protocol that you can use to secure your WIFI network. Follow these steps to change your WIFI password;
- Connect to your WIFI network, open the browser interface or router app and log in to your router as an administrator.
- If you forgot your password, please reset your router
- Open settings and go to the security settings of your network
- Under the security settings, select encryption. You will usually find several options, but choose WPA2 since it is the most secure.
- Enter a strong password (at least 20 characters), save it, and restart your router.
Change the username and password to the router interface
Most of the routers come with the default username and password as “admin.” You need to change these to further enhance the security of your router. Follow the following steps to make these changes;
- Open your browser or app and log into your router interface as an admin
- Under settings, choose administrator settings. For some manufacturers, the settings for changing the admin username and password are usually under security settings.
- Change the administrator username and password. Again, make sure the password is very strong, just like your network’s password.
Enable your router’s firewall
Most of the new routers in the market today have inbuilt firewalls. So, make sure the one the router you are about to purchase has one. But if it doesn’t, you can still install one within the browser interface or application of the router. Follow these steps to enable your router firewall;
- Open your router interface and go to the security or Firewall page
- Turn on your firewall if it is turned off
- Save your settings and restart the router
Make sure your router is always up-to-date
Router manufacturers always roll out firmware updates for their routers. These updates usually come with patches for some of the security loopholes that have been identified. Follow these steps to update your router’s firmware;
- Connect your router to a computer via ethernet
- Look for the firmware update option within your router settings and select it
- Your router will download and install the firmware update if it is available.
Yes, it might take you a couple of minutes to make all the changes and configurations we have just shared. However, the robustness and security you will have created for your WIFI network make it a worthy investment of your time.