There is a growing debate in the United States about online security. There was an uproar among the masses a few years back when it was revealed that the Government had been surveilling the citizens to deter any possible security threat. Internet privacy and security are some legitimate concerns every citizen should be worried about. After all, your online security holds great value and absence of which can create a significant loss in data and finances.
As a result, we see a rising trend in consumers taking online security and privacy seriously. The internet is like a safe space where everyone has the right to share his or her thoughts, opinions, and content. We like to keep it this way by taking all the steps to circumvent any cyberattack.
Moreover, many internet service providers have taken online security quite seriously. They have taken some extra steps to secure their network. The data traveling through the network is encrypted and it is not easy to crack the data. Providers like Cox Communication and Charter Spectrum are one of the few popular ones to introduce security suites with their plans. For example, if you subscribe to Cox internet plans, you get the Cox Security Suite included in the plan. This suite is powered by McAfee and protects your online experience.
However, even if you have online security coverage through your provider, there are innumerable ways to secure your wireless network even more. We created a comprehensive guide on all the necessary steps you can take to secure your family’s online adventures.
Steps to Secure your Wireless Network
The Wi-Fi signals from your router are not bound to the boundaries of your house. They are often broadcast beyond your walls into the streets. This is just like inviting hackers. It is reported that hackers love to drive to neighborhoods and breach the online security of vulnerable homes. Here are some of the ways to secure your wireless network:
i. Use a Secure Password
Always use a strong password. The password should be long and random. It must have a combination of upper case and lower case letters so it can’t be cracked. You can set up your router with the default settings. The admin name and password can be kept as they are printed on the back of your router. However, this makes everything easy for hackers to access your network. Therefore, you should change the name and password of your access point to make things difficult for the hacker.
ii. Use Stronger Encryption
Many outdated devices might have the older WEP standard for protection. This standard is fundamentally broken which means that any hacker can break in using some basic tools. Therefore, it is better to switch to the newer standards. Modern routers are equipped with the latest security protocols and standards. For example, some variants of WPA or WPA2 are extra secure. If you have a small house or office, it is more practical to use the standard with a pre-shared key. This means that all people in the house or office can connect to the network with the same password and the security depends on them. They shouldn’t write their password down on their phone.
Secondly, many Wi-Fi routers have a built-in feature called Wireless Protect Setup or WPS. This feature lets you easily connect to the devices. However, this in particular is quite exploited in many ways by hackers but you can disable this feature in the router’s settings. This is easier for large organizations and companies with dozens of employees. They can use their username and password to connect to the network.
iii. Change your Password Frequently
When it comes to changing your Wi-Fi password, there is no hard and fast rule on how frequently you should do it. Ideally, one should change it regularly. It is different from memorizing a new email or online banking key code, as you have to log in all the time. The Wi-Fi routers allow you to log in once to access the internet. Therefore, changing your password occasionally is less of a nuisance. It should be your monthly routine. All your family members should be in terms of this. They have to understand how important this is for their security.
iv. Hide your Network
Your SSID should not be available to every stranger with a device. You can stop its broadcast from the settings. If you block the router to send out its identifier, your home network becomes hidden. Only those devices will be able to see it that has a connection in the first place. The by-standers won’t even see it.
However, we do understand that this will create some problems, especially for the new devices. You can solve this problem by temporarily turning on the SSID broadcast and letting your new device connect to the network. Once the device is set up with the password, you can make the network hidden again. This is going to block unwanted visitors from getting on your network.
Now you might be wondering what if you have guests at your home? There is a solution to that as well. Many routers will allow you to create a guest network. You can set the password and other credentials. However, the basic rules are the same. The password should be strong and a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters.
v. Turn on the Firewall
All routers have an existing firewall but there is a high chance that it might be turned off. Therefore, navigate through the console settings and look for the firewall option. If you cannot find it, call customer support, and follow their instructions. You can visit the manufacturer’s website as well. Search through the knowledge base to get directions on the firewall settings.
All routers operate through a system called NAT. It stands for Network Address Translation. This means that all the devices on your network are designated a special address that is known only to the router. It is different from the IP address that represents your online presence. The router has its unique address to communicate with the outside world. NAT system prevents hackers from the identification of the address of individual devices that are on your network. As a result, unsolicited traffic is prevented before reaching the end-user.
vi. Use a Virtual Private Network
A virtual private network makes your online surfing extra secure. Now, whenever we go on the internet, we have a designated IP address. This IP address is our online identity and can reveal our location. Hackers use this IP address to access your data and information. As a result, your online security is compromised. A VPN replaces your IP address with an IP address of a remote server. Therefore, your original IP is masked and all your online activities become safe from the government, your ISP, and hackers. The VPNs are legal but make sure whatever you do use the VPN for is legal to avoid any related contingencies.
vii. Enable MAC Authentication
Another safe approach to keep your wireless network secure is by enabling MAC authentication. Every device has a specific serial number known as a MAC address. By enabling this authentication, you can choose a certain set of devices, with MAC address as an identifier, and barring the rest to connect to your network.
As a result, the unauthorized devices cannot access your network as MAC authentication is an additional barrier for hackers penetrating your home network.
viii. Use a Faraday Cage
You might have a great signal availability outside your home but as soon as you get indoors, the signals drop. This does not look normal to most of us. The construction material used in building your house causes this phenomenon. The metal in concrete walls can attract radio signals and prevent them from passing through. This is called a Faraday Cage and it is quite annoying for creating poor signal reception. However, it is a great way to trap the Wi-Fi signals inside your home. You can use the Faraday Cage while making some online payments or accessing your private data and information.
ix. Set up a Separate Network for All your IoT devices
IoT devices are taking every single corner of our homes. Our smart TVs, fridges, and virtual assistant Alexa, all of them require a connection to the internet. However, there are many problems associated with security. Firstly, with more IoT devices we have more endpoints. This means that there will be a greater number of potential entry points for hackers. Secondly, these devices have a poor track record when it comes to security. As a result, the security-conscious people may want to set up a separate network for these devices. This will put everything valuable on one network to secure your private data and information. On the other network, you can put all your less secure IoT devices. The guests can use the second network as well.
Follow these simple and easy steps to secure your home network. After all, the security of your data and information should be your utmost priority.