Did you know that your neighbor could have access to your Wireless network?
Well they can if your router isn’t secure.
With the increasing Cyber attacks from hackers happening all the time now, we should all be wondering how secure is my wireless router when connecting to the internet. Just how secure are they? Well let’s take a look at some settings you should be using that will keep your Wi-Fi signal safe from prying eyes.
First thing we need is access to your router’s settings:
To gain access to your router you will need the IP address of your router, which is something like 192.168.1.1, and should be located on the back or bottom of your router, now if it’s not there, you can find it by right clicking on the start menu or windows icon in the lower left corner of your screen. From there click on the command prompt, at the prompt type in “ipconfig” hit enter and you will see your settings. You will be looking for the Default Gateway which will be your IP address.
Now that you have your IP address, open your browser (any browser works) and type in “http:// IP address” where “IP address” is the address you found, like this –(http://192.168.1.1) you should now be log into your router. Next we will go over what settings to look for and change. Your router settings pages will look different from one router brand to another brand, and there is no way to cover them all here. So you are going to have to do a little exploring to find the settings that we will be talking about.
First thing we want to check is your Password, all routers have a default password set up at the factory and a lot of them are just simple and easy words that don’t take much effort to crack, I had one that had the default password set as “password”, now really how obvious is that one. So you will want to come up with a strong password that is comprised of upper and lower case letters with numbers, (you can always have it written down somewhere safe) and make it at least 9 characters long.
If you want to learn more about strong passwords check out my post on The importance of passwords. There I will show you ways to make a strong password that is easy to remember.
Change your SSID name: Service Set Identifier:
This is also referred to as the Wireless Network Name and is usually set as the brand name of the router like (Lynksys, Netgear 380, and so forth), these are obvious names so you will want to change your SSID name to something more secure. But you will want to stay away from using something like the family name, address, personal name, or other type of information, as that would just make it easier for someone to guess your SSID.
Disable The Remote Access:
Seeing that every router is different I can’t tell you exactly where you will find this, you will just have to look for something that refers to “device access or remote access”, this could be under something like management, advance, or administration settings.
Most router will have this set as disabled, but if you find that yours is enabled you will want to disable it. If it where enable this would allow access to your routers setting from outside your home network, (not a good thing).
Universal Plug and Play (UPnP):
Most routers will come with this enabled by default, the reason they do this is so that application like Skype, BitTorrent, and gaming consoles can access your router without you having to manually enter any port forwarding needed by them. Well this can lead to security holes in which malicious hackers can gain access to your network and install malware, and other bad things.
Because of this, it is recommended to disable the UPnP setting on your router. Now if you are doing a lot of online gaming this may cause a problem with connecting to their servers, you will be left with entering the port forwarding setting yourself, or you could just turn on the UPnP setting in your router while gaming or skyping. And then turn it off later.
If you would like to see just how vulnerable your router is you can run this UPnP exposure test provided by GRC by clicking here.
Wireless Security, using an encrypted signal:
You will want to use the WPA or WPA2 security setting for your router, most new routers will be set with the WPA2 personal setting by default. Even if you have a newer router, it will be a good idea to make sure your router is set to one of the above and not the WEP. You will find that the WEP setting uses a weaker encryption, so avoid this if possible .
If you happen to have an older router it might not support WPA or WPA2, if not just make sure it is set to use the WEP, this is a lot better than having no encryption enabled on your router.
Making sure your Firmware is up-to-date:
Some new routers will automatically update the firmware when one is available, but it is a good idea to check the settings and see if your router is up to date. Most routers will allow you to check for new firmware updates from the router’s dashboard, usually found in the advance settings or the administration section of the dashboard.
If your router doesn’t have an update feature you can check your manufacturer’s support web page to see if you have the most current version of firmware, from there you should be able to download and install the updated software.
Here you can add a little bit more security to your router by enabling MAC filtering on your router; this will block any device that tries to connect to your router that is not listed in the MAC filtering field. If you chose this option you will have to find and enter the MAC address of each device that you want to connect to your router, whether it is a wireless connection or hard wired. To find the address for your computer or laptop you will want to open the command prompt like I stated above, and then enter “ipconfig all”, your address will be beside the name “Physical Address”.
Now the downside of this is that a hacker that is determined to hack your router will be able to do so by changing their own computer’s MAC address to a matching one that you are using. They do this by simply downloading a sniffing tool that is available to anyone with internet connection. Once they have that, they can then change theirs to match yours and walla, they have access.
As you can see that if you are using different device to connect to your router on a regular basis, then doing this would be more of a hassle to you than any extra security that you might get out of it.
With so many different models of routers available it would have been impossible to cover the exact instructions on how to go about making any of the changes listed above, so if you don’t have a manual for your router you can Google your model including the phrase “manual” and you should be able to find it. Having this will make it a lot easier to make these changes without you having to stumble around. But, if you don’t mind doing a little exploring, forget the manual and wing it. 🙂
I hope you have found this useful for checking your router settings, and making sure they are set to optimize the security of your connection to the internet.
If you have questions or comments on how secure wireless routers are, please leave them below. Don’t forget to share this with others so they can stay safe also while connecting to the internet.
Have a wonderful and safe time on the net, I’m looking forward to hearing from you,