Wi-Fi security is the process of restraining any unauthorized access to internet-enabled devices. Since wireless routers have become the most common household appliance, a vast majority of people overlook its presence, least of all, think about securing it against hackers.
Internet-enabled gadgets are easy to set up, and most of us don’t even bother to change the devices’ default settings or configure the wireless security features. That leaves room for error, making these devices vulnerable to security breaches.
Cybercriminals find wireless networks comparatively easy to break in, and even use wireless technology to hack into wired networks. The risks to users or Wi-Fi have increased despite the technology gaining popularity and widespread adaptability.
As an average internet user, we’re careless and ignore the threats coming our way. Unwanted access to your device can potentially slow down your internet connection. In the background, the hacker may be accessing your private data and possibly installing malware on your device to trace your online activities.
With the advancement in technology, hacking methods have become advance. A hacker could conduct an attempt to hack or hack you from a different corner of the globe while comfortably sitting on their sofa.
Therefore, it’s time like these where we must secure our digital presence more than ever. Here are some techniques to secure your Wi-Fi network, prevent hackers from infiltrating your network, and protect your precious data from falling into the wrong hands.
1. Disable Wireless Network Name (SSID) Broadcasting
A simple but effective method is to stop broadcasting your Network (SSID). This provides very little protection against anything but the most casual intervention.
SSID (Service Set Identifier) is the name of your Wi-Fi network, which notifies other devices about your online presence, within range of your network. Every Wi-Fi router is provided default SSIDs according to brand and model.
Hackers use the default SSID to identify the router and then exploit vulnerabilities. However, you can reduce this threat by hiding the SSID of your Wi-Fi network. No one will attempt to hack into a Wi-Fi network that isn’t visible to them.
If you attempt to block your router from sending out its identifier, your home Wi-Fi becomes a hidden network. Those devices which already have connection will still be able to connect, but passers-by won’t see it. In many cases, the network will show a line that says ”Hidden Network” without knowing the name of the network; it is hard to connect to it.
A drawback of SSID is that not every device has this option, and some have problems connecting because they’re unable to detect an SSID. The real problem arises when you buy a new device, but then you can temporarily turn on the SSID broadcast to let your new device to search the network.
Once you are done with setting up a connection with a password, make your network hidden again. Hiding the network makes it even easier to prevent intruders from getting on the network.
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2. Changing the SSID and Password frequently
Not everyone is comfortable with disabling their SSIDs, as it might be problematic for some devices to connect to the network; the other option to secure your Wi-Fi router is changing the SSID and password of your router frequently. The consistency of keeping the same SSIDs or default SSIDs and password makes it easier for intruders to crack them down.
Since every device is provided with the default SSIDs according to their brand and model, you have to change the SSID more frequently and make it harder for malicious attackers to get to know what type of router you have. If a hacker knows the manufacturer’s name of your router, they get to know the vulnerabilities of that device as well and will try to exploit it.
It is emphatically not advised to call your network something like Peter’s Wi-Fi, or any other password that shares hints about your personal information. Remember that showcasing your personal information on a wireless network name can lead your network to be hacked easily.
Changing passwords, along with the SSIDs, is crucial to secure your Wi-Fi network. There are people you can’t say no to when they ask for your Wi-Fi password. In such situations, think about its long term repercussions, such as how they’ll be able to access your Wi-Fi network and enter into your home network very easily whenever they are at your home or passing nearby.
At the same time, you can make it difficult for people to remember your password. Instead, manually type the Wi-Fi password yourself or share it through your device’s Wi-Fi sharing functionality.
A strong wireless password should be alphanumeric in nature with at least 20 characters, a random sequence of letters, numbers, and unique characters mixing uppercase and lowercase so no one can remember it.
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3. Turn on WPA2 encryption on your Wireless Router
If you have a Wi-Fi network running for a while now and haven’t changed any settings since then, most likely, you might be utilizing the obsolete Wireless Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encryption, which is easily attacked by hackers. Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) is the advanced standard and is considerably safer.
As the name recommends, WPA2 is an improved and much-advanced version of Wireless Protected Access (WPA) security. WPA2 has been accessible on all confirmed Wi-Fi hardware since 2006 and was an optional feature on some products before that. It was primarily designed as a replacement for the older and much less secure WEP.
It might be difficult to see abbreviation WPA2, WPA, and WEP because they may all appear as similar that it doesn’t make a difference what you secure your system with, though there are a few contrasts between them.
The least secure is WEP, which gives security equivalent to that of a wired association. WEP communicates messages utilizing radio waves and is a lot simpler to split. This is because a similar encryption key is utilized for each data packet. Therefore the highest chance is that the intruders review enough information, and the key can easily be identified with automated software (even in only a couple of minutes). It’s ideal to stay away from WEP completely.
WPA enhances WEP in that it gives the TKIP encryption plan to scramble the encryption key and make sure it hasn’t been transformed during the data transfer. The significant contrast among WPA2 and WPA is that WPA2 further improves the security of a system since it requires utilizing a more grounded encryption strategy called AES (Advanced Encryption Standard).
WPA2 uses AES figure to ensure secure transmissions. You can make changes in Wi-Fi encryption from the router console. The AES encryption choice frequently shows up in a second-pick list. So after you pick WPA2 in the first field, you can choose AES in the second field.
4. Enable the Firewall of Your Wi-Fi Router
You’re probably unaware that your wireless router contains a powerful built-in firewall that you may not have turned on. A firewall is a dominant defense against hackers. You might already have it in your router, but you’ve probably never paid attention to it.
A firewall is equivalent to a traffic cop that helps to secure and direct your network. It tends to be utilized to keep traffic from entering as well as leaving the zones of your network system.
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Firewalls can be an astounding procedure to restrain Internet-borne port-based attacks. Firewalls can likewise counteract an infected PC inside your system from attacking different PCs by keeping malevolent traffic from leaving your system.
Since you know a little bit about the advantages of firewalls, consider verifying to see if your wireless router offers a built-in firewall. It would be great that the router you already own has a built-in firewall. So you won’t have a problem to turn it on.
You can check whether your wireless device has a built-in firewall or not. Open a browser window and log in to your administrative console by typing in the routers IP address. Your router may have what is known as a non-routable internal IP address such as 192.168.1.1 or 10.0.0.1 as its address.
Search for a configuration page that would be labeled as security or firewall. This shows that your router has a built-in firewall. Then you will see the Enable button, once you’ve enabled it you will have to click the save button and then click Apply to implement the change. And now, you have put an extra layer of protection of your wireless device.
5. Check on the 802.1x Client Settings
The 802.1x client setting aims to accept or reject users who want full access to a network using 802.1x. It is a security formality that works with 802.11 wireless networks such as 802.11b/g/n as well as wired devices.
Apart from only encrypting wireless data, WPA can interact with 802.1x or RADIUS authentication servers to offer a more secure method of controlling access to the WLAN, while someone could set up a fake Wi-Fi network with the same SSID as the network they want to imitate.
When your PC attempts to connect, a fake RADIUS server could catch your login credentials. The hacker then uses your login credentials to connect to the real Wi-Fi network.
Therefore, securing the 802.1x client setting is way more important than the others. Where WEP, or WPA in PSK mode, enables anonymous access to anyone who has the correct key or password, 802.1x or RADIUS authentication demands users have a valid username and password credentials. 802.1x or RADIUS is used to prevent middle man attacks.
At the point when the server confirmation is enabled on the wireless client, the client won’t pass your personal login credentials to the RADIUS server until it verifies that it is communicating with the genuine server.
In windows, for example, you enter a domain’s name of the actual server and then select the certified authority that gave the server’s authentication, and afterward, you decide not to permit any new servers, so if somebody has developed a fake Wi-Fi Network and you attempt to sign up to it, Windows will prevent you from connecting.
The advantage of 802.1x or RADIUS server is that the switches and the access points do not need to know how to authenticate the client. They pass the information between the client and the authentication server.
Then it is the job of the authentication to handle the official verification of the client’s credentials. By which 802.1x helps many authentication methods, from simple username to hardware token, and digital certificates.
Also read, how to change the Wi-Fi password in 2 minutes.
The protection of the home network system ought to be a top priority for every one of us, regardless of whether we’re keen on keeping the personal information secure or not. These measures can be beneficial even for non-technical individuals.
Likewise, remember that your network security can be often weak and inclined to be exploited. It won’t make a drastic difference how strong your password is or if your software is up-to-date unless you’ve got a VPN masking your online activities against cybercriminals who are eagerly cooking ways to hack your Wi-Fi network.
- Always keep your devices up-to-date with the recent software available
- Don’t forget to apply the latest security patches to ensure your network security
- Make sure that the devices have the latest antivirus and an anti-malware security
The reason behind this article to make you aware of the threats your network might encounter and the expert methods to protect your network from malicious cybercriminals.
Regardless, you still need to watch out for insecure Wi-Fi routers out there. Don’t forget that the security of your network is not something to slack on. A secure online presence means a more secure you.