At a basic level, a home network is a collection of devices which are connected to each other using wires, or wirelessly. The list of devices can include computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, smartwatches, printers, and more.
It is crucial to keep your home network secure; some of its devices may store sensitive information such as banking details, email account information, usernames and passwords for your social media accounts, and more.
Fortunately, you can protect your home network from cyber attacks using a few simple methods. If you are looking for effective tips that will help you keep your home network secure, this article is for you.
1. Access the router using a wired connection.
The router is your first line of defense against hackers and automated cyber attacks. It is your home network's gateway to the Internet, which means it has the important role of protecting all the data that moves in and out of your home network.
Unfortunately, some hackers may come close enough to your house to get access to your data. Simply look up "wardriving" in Google, and you will discover that the danger is real. These bad guys may use man-in-the-middle attacks to steal private data from your devices, and getting access to your router is of paramount importance to them.
With man-in-the-middle attacks, hackers intercept the data that is being transferred between two parties, alter it, and then send it to one or both of them, pretending to be the other party. You may think you are logging into your router's admin panel, but you would input your username and password in a web form which was set up by a hacker.
Wired connections may not be that convenient, but they are much safer in comparison with Wi-Fi networks. So, be sure to access your router's admin panel using an Ethernet connection, because this will prevent hackers from logging into the device.
2. Change router's username and password.
Change your router's default login credentials as soon as you buy a new model; default router usernames/passwords can be easily found on the Internet. By changing your router's username (if possible) and password, you will reduce the risk of being hacked or spied on.
Many people use passwords such as "123456" or "monkey" to secure their devices, but I guarantee that their home networks have been penetrated a long time ago. Don't make the same mistake; ensure that your passwords include complex sequences, which can't be guessed or discovered by hackers through brute-force attacks. Be proactive about your cyber security!
With brute-force attacks, hackers will use applications that try every possible password combination until they find one that works. Make sure to use passwords that have at least 15 characters; this will make them almost impossible to crack. In the end, don't forget that any password, no matter how complex, can be discovered. Change your router password every six months, and you should be safe.
3. Use a random Service Set Identifier (SSID) name.
Each wireless network must have a unique name, but many router manufacturers continue to include their brand names in the default SSIDs. People who have purchased a Linksys router will discover that the default Wi-Fi network name is something like Linksys-12345, for example.
Don't make it easy for cyber criminals to get access to your network. If they know your router's manufacturer, it will be much easier for them to look for specific vulnerabilities online. Therefore, you should choose a random name for your network, and not one that gives away useful information.
4. Use the best security protocol for your Wi-Fi network.
Did you know that the first wireless networks exchanged unencrypted data? This meant that anyone could intercept and see all the information that traveled wirelessly.
Everything seemed to change with the introduction of Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). I said "seemed", because there were serious problems with this security protocol, starting with the implementation of the weak RC4 encryption mechanism, which was supposed to keep the data secure, but failed to do so. Hackers soon found out that they could crack any WEP network within minutes.
Things improved as time passed by, of course. Wi-Fi Alliance approved WPA, WPA2, and now we've gotten WPA3, which offers protection against brute-force attacks, advanced data encryption mechanisms, and more.
It has been demonstrated that WPA2 networks can be cracked under certain circumstances, but WPA3 is considered secure at the moment. So, if your router supports WPA3, make sure to activate it.
5. Keep router firmware updated.
If you've bought an expensive router, you will find out that its manufacturer releases updates that patch security holes regularly. I'm not saying that it can't happen with low-end routers, but this has been my experience so far.
Router firmware updates are easy to install these days; some routers can even download and apply the patches on their own, without requiring human intervention.
I hope that you like, and you will apply these tips; they can protect your home network from hackers and their malicious software.