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Securing Your Home Wireless Network

What is a home wireless network?

In a few simple words, a basic home wireless network means connecting an Internet access point, such as a cable from your Internet Service Provider, to a (wireless) router in order to allow multiple devices to connect to the network very quickly.

Many people don’t realize, but the Internet router is one of the most important devices in our home. It’s the gateway to our Internet access and also prone to exploits by cybercriminals who can sneak into our devices and get access to our system.

Though relatively easy to use and access, Wi-Fi networks are not always SECURE networks. Wi-fi comes with lots of security issues. For this reason, learning how to secure your wireless home network against cybercriminals is a wise and smart move. Given how many Internet of Things devices you may own, making sure your network is extra safe carries even more weight, even though sometimes taking care of your cybersecurity can be a tedious but necessary task.

Below are some steps you can take to secure your home wireless network:

  1.  Change the name of your default home network
  2. Make sure you set a strong and unique password to secure your wireless network
  3. Use a strong network administrator password to increase Wi-Fi security
  4. Always keep your router’s software up-to-date
  5. Enhance protection for the devices most frequently connected to your home network
  6. Turn off the wireless home network when you’re not at home

In Depth Overview of Steps

Step 1. Change the name of your default home network

If you want to better secure your home network, the first thing you should do is to change the name of your Wi-Fi network, also known as the SSID (Service Set Identifier).

While giving your Wi-Fi a somewhat provocative name such as “Can’t hack this” may backfire at times, other names such as “this is not a wifi” or “too fly for a wifi” are perfectly acceptable.

Changing your Wi-Fi’s default name makes it harder for malicious attackers to know what type of router you have. If a cybercriminal knows the manufacturer name of your router, they will know what vulnerabilities that model has and then try to exploit them.

We strongly advise not to call your home network something like “John’s Wi-Fi”. You don’t want them to know at first glance which wireless network is yours when there are probably three or four other neighboring Wi-Fi’s.

Step 2. Make sure you set a strong and unique password to secure your wireless network

You probably know that every wireless router comes pre-set with a default username and password, which is needed in the first place to install and connect your router. The worst part: it’s easy for hackers to guess it, especially if they know the manufacturer.

So, make sure you change them both immediately.

A good password should be at least 16 characters long. Worried about creating a password you won’t remember? Consider using a passphrase (ex. TP4everyone2day!) or password manager to help.

Step 3. Use a strong network administrator password to increase Wi-Fi security

To set up your wireless router, you usually need to access an online platform or site, where you can make several changes to your network settings.

Most Wi-fi routers come with default credentials such as “admin” and “password” which are easy for malicious hackers to break into.

Step 4. Always keep your router’s software up-to-date

The software is an essential part of your wireless network security. The wireless router’s firmware, like any other software, contains flaws which can become major vulnerabilities and be ruthlessly exploited by hackers.

Unfortunately, many wireless routers don’t come with the option to auto-update their software, so you have to go through the hassle of doing this manually.

And even for those Wi-Fi networks that can auto-update, it still requires you to switch on this setting. But, we remind you about the importance of software patching and how neglecting to do this can leave open doors for cybercriminals to exploit various vulnerabilities.  

Step 5. Enhance protection for the devices most frequently connected to your home network

Important: Do not leave any exposed vulnerabilities for online criminals to pick on!

Even though you’ve increased protection for your router and home network, you need to make sure you don’t have any security holes that can be exploited by online criminals.

Here’s what we recommend you to do:

  1. Remember to always keep your devices up to date with the most recent software available;
  2. Always apply the latest security patches to ensure no security hole is left open to malicious actors.
  3. Check which devices connect most often to your home network and make sure they have antivirus and/or an anti-malware security software installed.
  4. Make sure to protect your devices using multiple security layers consisting of specialized security software such as updated antivirus programs and traffic filtering software. 

Step 6. Turn off the wireless home network when you’re not at home

In order to secure your network, we strongly recommend you to disable the wireless home network, in case of extended periods of non-use. You should do the same thing with all your devices that are using Ethernet cables or when you won’t be at home.

By doing this, you are closing any windows of opportunity malicious hackers might attempt to get access to it while you are away.

Here are a few advantages of disabling your wireless network:

  • Security reasons – Turning off your network devices, it minimizes the chances of becoming a target for hackers.
  • Surge protection – When you power off your network device, you also lower the possibility of being damaged by electric power surges;
  • Noise reduction –  Although the modern home networks are much quieter these days, disabling your wireless home network can add calmness to your home.