It’s a cold day, so you head over to the local café to enjoy a warm cup of coffee (maybe even a little cake) and meet up with your friends. You connect to the open Wi-Fi network and log into your Facebook account to check-in and post a few pictures.
The following day, you wake up and try logging into your Facebook account only to find out that you can’t. That’s right, you’ve just been hacked! Turns out that the café didn’t pay much attention towards securing their Wi-Fi network.
Hence, a hacker was able to breach the security of the wireless network and intercept the data of everyone at the café. Surprised? Don’t be. It’s actually easy for someone to intercept what you’re doing online, and this could easily happen with your home network as well.
What Is a Home Network and Why Should You Protect It?
To put it simply, a home network is when you connect an access point such as an Ethernet cable provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to a router so that multiple devices – like mobiles, printers, computers, and gaming systems – can connect to that network.
If you don’t take the necessary measures to protect your home network, intruders can break-in and steal your personal data. Unfortunately, setting up a password is the only step most people take to protect their home network.
That, however, would merely prevent your neighbors from using your home network. Yes, a cybercriminal can still take advantage of your poor Wi-Fi security to launch various attacks such as Man-in-the-middle attacks or KRACK attacks.
While Wi-Fi networks indeed make it easier for everyone at home to access the internet and all it has to offer, they aren’t always secure. For this reason, protecting your home network is something that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Furthermore, keeping in view the Internet of Things (IoT) devices you have in your home – or probably will in the near future – it becomes even more paramount to make sure your home network is as secure as it can possibly be.
How to Secure Your Wi-Fi Home Network?
You can protect your home internet against hacking and snooping attempts by following the steps mentioned below:
Change the Admin Credentials of Your Router
Most routers come with a default username and password that you will need to access the web interface, where you can make changes to your network settings.
Since the admin credentials of just about any router are easily available online , you should change them immediately to prevent unauthorized access.
If you by any chance forget the new username and password, fret not. You can always reset your router to its factory settings and get in with the default admin info.
Change the Name of Your Home Network
You should change the name of your wireless home network, also referred to as Service Set Identifier (SSID).
That’s because if a hacker knows the router’s manufacturer, they will be able to exploit the vulnerabilities of that model.
By changing the name of your Wi-Fi, you can make it harder for cybercriminals to find out what type of router you’re using.
However, don’t make the mistake of changing the network name to something like “Carl’s Wi-Fi”, for example.
This can make it easier for them to know which network is yours, especially if there are only 3 or 4 Wi-Fi’s available in the area.
Enable Network Encryption
This is undoubtedly the most important thing you can do to lock down your home network and prevent eavesdroppers from listening in.
Therefore, head over to your router’s settings by logging into its web interface, and look for the best security option.
You will have multiple encryption standards to choose from, such as Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) or Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2).
Activate WPA2-PSK, also known as WPA2 Personal, and choose AES as your encryption type. You will also need to provide a password (network key) for your encrypted Wi-Fi network.
Remember, this isn’t the router’s password but rather what you enter on your device to gain access to the network.
So, make sure the password you choose is strong, yet something that’s easy to memorize and type on every wireless device you use.
Keep Your Router’s Firmware Up-to-Date
Though updating router firmware is usually overlooked, it’s an important part of your home internet security.
As with your web browser, operating system and other software, hackers always look for security loopholes in routers which they could exploit.
Once these exploits are identified, router manufacturers patch the security weaknesses by releasing new firmware.
For this reason, it’s important to access your router’s settings every now and then to see if there are any updates available.
It’s recommended that you run these upgrades as soon as they are available – they also sometimes add new features to your router!
Filter Permitted MAC Addresses
Every device – whether it’s an internet-enabled mobile phone or a laptop computer – has a MAC address which serves as a unique identifier.
For an added layer of security, add the MAC addresses (yes, it’s got nothing to do with Apple) of all your devices to your router’s settings.
By doing so, only these specified devices will be permitted to access the internet via your home Wi-Fi network.
You can also check your router’s “Access Control” section to view a list of connected devices, and select the ones you want to block or allow.
Don’t know how to find your MAC address? They are usually labelled on the device itself, but you can also find them by typing “ipconfig/all” in Command Prompt.
Activate Firewall to Secure Your Home Network
A firewall isn’t just a software program that you can use on your computer. It also comes preinstalled into routers to keep your internal network protected against attacks from the outside.
Make sure that you turn it on if it’s not automatic because it will add an extra layer of security to your home network.
For complete protection, it’s best to install a dedicated firewall software on your computer as well. But opt for a paid firewall as they come with more functionalities than free alternatives.
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A reliable VPN, like PureVPN, is essential to secure your home Wi-Fi network and prevent any chances of being hacked or snooped on.
It creates a secure tunnel between your device and the internet, hiding your real identity and making it appear like you’re connected from another country.
Plus, with all your internet traffic protected via high-grade encryption, neither your Internet Service Provider (ISP), nor anyone else can snoop on what you’re doing online.
If your home internet security isn’t up to the mark, even the most inexperienced of hackers can break into your network and steal your Wi-Fi data! However, by taking the security measures mentioned above, you can protect your home Wi-Fi network from cybercriminals and go about your online activities with complete peace of mind.