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WiFi, or Wireless Network Connection, has simplified network and Internet access in our homes. It has enabled wireless music and video streaming, file and printer sharing, and Internet access and sharing between Wi-Fi enabled laptops, computers, tablets, phones, smart TVs, streaming devices, and more.

LAN cables are no longer necessary as the same functions are now provided by WiFi routers.

The consequences of unsecured Wi-Fi

However, it is the same wireless function that can be used by intruders. These could be professional hackers determined to gain access to your network with malicious intent, or your neighbor trying to access your network for free internet to download videos or music.

Intruders can do the following:

  • connect to your network to access private data on connected devices.
  • using your internet connection to perform a malicious act.
  • cast or stream unwanted video or audio to your connected devices.
  • use your internet resource resulting in a slow, high latency connection.

You obviously don’t want all of these things to happen. So here are 5 ways to secure your Wi-Fi connection.

Change your SSID & WiFi access password regularly

SSID is the name of your Wi-Fi connection. WiFi routers come with standard SSIDs according to make and model. However, certain makes and models have known vulnerabilities.

An intruder can use the default SSID to identify the router and then exploit it using the known vulnerabilities. But you can mitigate this threat by assigning a unique SSID to hide what type of router it is.

Closely related to SSIDs are Wi-Fi access passwords. To access a router’s wireless connection, that user must know both your router’s SSID and its password. Because some routers have default passwords (and some don’t even have a password at all), assigning a new password will prevent an intruder from gaining unauthorized access.

However, no network is completely secure. Determined intruders will find various ways to obtain your password. But these methods usually take time, patience and creativity.

By periodically changing your SSID and WiFi access password, an intruder who has already gotten your old WiFi password will have to go through the same time-consuming process again to get your new password. They may eventually lose interest if the time and effort required far exceeds the rewards achieved.

Place your WiFi router in a safe and strategic location

Your Wi-Fi router should be placed so that the signal is only sufficient to serve all areas of your home and not beyond. WiFi signals reaching areas outside your property, such as the street or houses next door, would invite potential intruders to access your network.

To control the strength of your Wi-Fi signal, adjust the transmit power in your router so that it stays within the limits of your home.

In addition, your Wi-Fi router should be placed in a secure location. Routers have buttons and ports that allow intruders to bypass security. For example, the WPS button allows access to any device that connects via WPS after the button is pressed.

Likewise, some Wi-Fi routers have LAN ports for backwards compatibility with wired connections, which are unsecured by default. By preventing physical access to the Wi-Fi router’s WPS button and LAN ports, you can further secure your Wi-Fi.

Change the Wi-Fi router admin management profile

All routers have an administrator profile for maintenance purposes. These profiles usually have factory-issued usernames and passwords for administrators. You have to change them.

Failure to do so could allow an intruder with Wi-Fi access to open a backdoor for them to use later, even after the SSID and Wi-Fi access password are changed.

Using the WiFi router management functions

Some Wi-Fi routers have other features that help with security.

For example, some routers list all the devices currently connected to them via MAC address identification. You can manually check connected devices by their identified MAC addresses to determine if an unknown device has connected.

Other routers have a Whitelist/Blacklist function. This allows you to specify which devices (based on their MAC addresses) can or cannot access your router.

Another administrative feature that you may want to manage is the WPS PIN entry feature. It allows users to access the router by entering a PIN instead of a password and can be exploited by intruders to gain backdoor access.

Secure devices connecting to your Wi-Fi router

Devices that connect to your Wi-Fi router usually store the Wi-Fi password on their systems. That could be a problem.

An intruder with physical access to those devices can view those stored passwords. To counter this threat, make sure all your devices are secured.

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