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Wi-Fi Security Tips: 10 Ways to Avoid Home Network Hackers

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This story is part of Home tipsCNET’s collection of practical tips for making the most of your home, inside and out.

Your home Wi-Fi network may not be as secure as you think. In 2021, cybercrime is costing Americans More than $6.9 billion. While phishing and phishing contributed to the losses, Personal data breaches It was also important. In many cases, these personal data breaches could have been prevented with a little home network security.

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The average American family has More than 10 devices connected to his house Wi-Fi network. from laptops and tablets to phones, smart watches And broadcast devices, the number can grow rapidly, and each is potentially vulnerable to hacking. With so much data stored on those devices – Credit card bank numbers and records, Login credentials and other personal and private information – you want to make sure you protect yourself from hackers if your network is compromised.

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A secure home network will help reduce the risk of being hacked and having someone access your sensitive information. Not only that, but it will keep away unwanted or unauthorized users and devices that would slow down your connection or freeload the internet service you pay for.

It’s very easy to create and maintain a secure home Wi-Fi network. Below, you’ll find 10 tips for securing your network. Some are more effective than others at keeping hackers and freelancers at bay, but all are useful in their own way. Keep in mind that nothing can guarantee absolute security from hacking attempts, but these tips will make it difficult for anyone to hack into your network and data. (For more Wi-Fi tips, check out How do you know if your internet provider is throttling your Wi-Fi? and ours Tips on how to speed up your Wi-Fi connection).

How to secure your home Wi-Fi network

Here are the basics of protecting your home Wi-Fi network. Keep reading for more information on each below.

1. Put your router in a central location.

2. Create a strong Wi-Fi password and change it often.

3. Change the router’s default login credentials.

4. Turn on the firewall and Wi-Fi encryption.

5. Create a guest network.

6. Use a VPN.

7. Keep your router and hardware updated.

8. Disable remote access to the router.

9. Check connected devices.

10. Upgrade to a WPA3 router.

Put your router in a central location

Strong network security starts with a smart setup. If possible, place your router in the center of your home. Routers send wireless signals in all directions, so strategically placing your router in a central location will help keep you connected to your home borders. As a bonus, you are also likely to be offered to The best call quality.

For example, if you have Internet in the apartment Where the neighbors are immediately to your left and right, placing your router next to a shared wall can send an enticingly strong signal their way. Even if you are not in an apartment, a Good router He can cast signals around the corner or across the street. Placing your router in a central location will help reduce the distance these signals travel outside your home.

Create a strong Wi-Fi password and change it often

This is amazing ought to It goes without saying, but I’m still going to cover it to emphasize its importance. Creating a unique password for your Wi-Fi network is essential to maintaining a secure connection. Avoid easy-to-guess passwords or phrases, such as a person’s name, birthdays, phone numbers, or other common information. While making simple Wi-Fi passwords easier to remember, they also make them easier for others to figure out. (here How to access router settings to update Wi-Fi password.)

Be sure to change your password every six months or so or whenever you think your network security has been compromised.

the bottom of the router

Chris Monroe/CNET

Change the router’s default login credentials

Similar to password protecting your Wi-Fi, you’ll also want to prevent anyone from directly accessing your router’s settings. To do that, go ahead and change the admin name and password for your router. You can log into your router’s settings by typing its IP address into the URL bar, but most routers and providers have an app that lets you access the same settings and information.

Your router login credentials are separate from your Wi-Fi name and password. If you are not sure of the default setting, you should be able to find it on the bottom of the router. Or, if it was changed from the default somewhere along the way, Here’s how to access your router’s settings To update your username and password.

Turn on the firewall and Wi-Fi encryption

Most routers have a firewall to prevent outside hacking and Wi-Fi encryption to prevent anyone from eavesdropping on the data sent back and forth between the router and connected devices. Both are usually active by default, but you’ll need to check to make sure they work.

Now that you know how to log into your router’s settings, check to make sure that your firewall and Wi-Fi encryption are enabled. If for any reason they are turned off, turn them on. Your network security will thank you.

Create a Wi-Fi network for guests

“Can I get the Wi-Fi password?” It is undoubtedly something that all hosts have heard of. Before sharing access to your main home network, consider Create a separate guest network for visitors. I’m not suggesting that your guests try to do anything nefarious with your main Wi-Fi connection, but their device or anything they download while connected to your network may be infected with malware or viruses targeting your network without them knowing.

The guest network is also ideal for your IoT devices, such as Wi-Fi camerasAnd thermostats And smart speakers Devices that may not contain as much sensitive information and may be more easily hacked than smarter devices such as a computer or phone.

A phone with the letters VPN and the Wi Fi logo on the screen

James Martin/CNET

Use a VPN

There are several reasons to use a file Good VPNNetwork security is one of them. A VPN hides your IP address and Wi-Fi activity, including browsing data.

VPNs are probably more useful when connected to a public network, but they can still add a level of security and privacy to your home network. Some VPNs are better than others, but like anything else, you often get what you pay for. Free VPN services are available, but paying a little extra (just a few dollars per month) will provide much better. Safer service.

Keep your router and hardware updated

Software updates always seem to pop up when you need to be online the most. While they can be annoying, they do have a purpose, and they often include security updates. When companies become aware of potential security vulnerabilities or are exposed, they release updates and patches to reduce or eliminate risks. you want to download.

Keeping your router and connected devices updated with the latest updates will help ensure that you have the best protection against known malware and hacking attempts. Set your router to update automatically in the admin settings, if applicable, and check periodically to make sure your router is up to date.

Disable remote access to the router

Remote router access allows anyone who is not directly connected to your Wi-Fi network to access your router settings. Unless you need to access your router while away from home (to check or change the configuration of a connected child’s device, for example), there should be no reason to enable remote access.

You can disable remote access within the router’s administrator settings. Unlike other security measures, disabling remote router access may not be the default.

Check connected devices

Frequently check the devices connected to your network and make sure you know what they are. If anything looks suspicious, unplug it and change your Wi-Fi password. After changing your password, you will have to reconnect all of your previously connected devices, but any users or devices that are not authorized to use your network will get to boot.

Some devices, especially obscure ones from the Internet of Things, may have weird default names of random numbers and letters that you don’t immediately recognize. If you encounter something like this when checking your connected devices, unplug them. Later, when you can’t start the robot vacuum cleaner From your phone, you’ll know that’s what it was.

Upgrade to a WPA3 router

WPA3 is the latest security protocol for routers. All new routers should come with WPA3, so if you buy a new router, you don’t have to worry. However, many people rent their routers directly from the provider, which may not include the latest equipment.

If your router was manufactured before 2018, you may have a WPA2 device that lacks the same security protocols as newer WPA3 devices. A quick search of your device’s model should tell you when it appeared and any specific features, such as whether it has WPA2 or WPA3. If you have a router with WPA2, Call and negotiate with your provider For a better and newer router.

Network security is not a guarantee

Again, even with the latest and most effective ways to protect your home network, security will never be 100% certain. As long as the Internet exists, hackers and cybercriminals will find ways to exploit it. But with the above tips, you can better keep your network secure from anyone trying to use your connection or access your data.

For more information, check out How to find free Wi-Fi anywhere in the world And The perfect location for your router.

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