Securing Wi-Fi is one of the greatest concerns of this Internet era. We can find Wi-Fi networks almost everywhere and its popularity is due to the high portability it offers. With Wi-Fi, you can surf web anywhere at your home without the need of extra long cables. Also, sharing the network takes no time and no extra cables. But unfortunately, Wi-Fi networks are also easily penetrable when comparing to wired networks. There are many tools available for this purpose which can trace your packets and analyze them for the password of your wireless network. Anyway, most of this could be avoided if the user took the necessary precautions before establishing his Wi-Fi network. This is exactly what we are going to see in this article, the basic steps to be taken before establishing your Wi-Fi network.
The steps mentioned below should be performed right after you configure your modem with ISP settings. If not, do not wait for a wake up call and apply these to your home Wi-Fi router as early as possible.
1. Change the Default Router Password
Don’t confuse this with your wireless network password. The router password allows you to have administrator access to your router itself. The default credentials for most of the routers is admin/password, admin/admin or both blank. Once the attacker gains access to your router, he can completely overwrite other settings leaving you stumbled. To avoid this, go to 192.168.1.1 in your address bar, type in default credentials (for your router), then change the default password. If you are wondering, how can one look up for your router if he is not even connected to your network, just Google for Port Scanners.
2. Encrypt your Wireless Network
Once you have changed the default router password, proceed to Wi-Fi settings and assign a password for your wireless network. This way, whenever a device tries to connect to your network, this password must be entered otherwise access is denied. Even though it is proven to be cracked, it is still a better option than using an unsecured network.
3. Enable MAC Address Filtering
Once you are done with the above settings, it is time to improve your security further with MAC Address Filtering/ Access Control List. To enable MAC Address Filtering, follow the steps given below:
- Connect all devices which you are most likely to use in your network.
- Go to Router Config Page (192.168.1.1) with proper credentials and search for something like Access Management (name might vary in different routers).
- Under Access Management, look up for Access Control List setup tab where the MAC Address of all your connected devices are mentioned. Just select them all and check the box saying Enable Access Control List.
- Once you have enabled ACL, no other device can connect to your network unless their MAC Address is mentioned in the Access Rule.
P.S. The terms might vary for different routers. So do a little research for enabling ACL on your own router.
4. Save your Configuration
Almost all routers have the option to save your current configuration into a config file which you can later use to load from. This config file stores every settings you applied including the Router Credentials, ISP Settings and etc. If you are wondering what this has to do with security, consider that your router has been hacked and all you are left to do is to reset your modem to prevent further damage. But by doing so, you lose all your ISP Settings which are hard to recollect and is definitely an extra work. But by loading a previously saved config file, you can restore all your settings in no time. So trust me when I say, saving your configuration is very important. If you don’t believe me, you are gonna learn it the hard way. Save your configuration whenever you made some changes in your router. So when crap hits the fan, all you have to do is reset your modem and load the config file. Simple as that!
There are still some more options like reducing the range of your Wi-Fi signal, Disable Broadcasting SSID but I don’t feel they are worth mentioning for a home user. The tips I mentioned here are more than enough to secure your Home Wi-Fi Network. If you feel like I missed something, do make a note in the comments below. Happy Computing!