Protecting your wireless network is something you have to and can do on your own. The tips below will require from you to login to the router’s configuration page i.e. the web-based utility. Before you start make sure to have all the necessary details like router’s IP, username and password. Once you have these, you are ready to start.
In order to make things a bit easier and simpler, make sure to connect to your router with an Ethernet cable. The reason for this is that when we are changing the router settings, chances are that the wireless connection will be interrupted. Therefore it is safer to make these changes using a wired connection.
Change all the defaults
Since every router is being shipped with default IP, username and password, it is quite easy to get these details on the Internet. The “interested party” only has to know what router you are using which is quite easy to find out since your router is broadcasting the router brand by default. So these are the first things you have to change when you start to secure your router:
Change the default router IP address
If someone knows your router brand or model, he or she will easily find your default IP. Therefore this is the first thing you will want to change, so instead of 192.168.1.1 you can use 192.168.1.130 to login to your router. Basically every IP will work as long as it is in the Private IP range and as long as there is no other device in your network with the same IP address. The last one should be checked before you make the change in order to avoid IP conflicts which can damage your home network.
Change the default login credentials (username and password)
Default usernames and passwords can be easily found on the Internet, there are some even on this site. Therefore they have to be changed. Please note that some routers don’t allow the username to be changed. In that case you have nothing to worry about, changing the password only is usually enough. Just make sure to change the password into something memorable, because if you change and forget your password, the only solution is to hard reset your router.
Change the Router SSID or the Home Network name
When you have wireless internet enabled, the router broadcasts its name or the so called SSID (System Set Identifier). When changing this option, try not to be too personal and reveal whose network it is. Some sources recommend disabling/hiding SSID broadcast. Since hiding the SSID can cause some additional problems for you when you want to use your wireless internet with a new device, we don’t recommend you to do this. Additionally, an experienced hacker can easily find your SSID although it is hidden.
NOTE: When you make changes to your router settings, most probably you will be logged out when you press the Save button. If that happens login again and continue with the customization.
Additional security measures
Wireless MAC Filtering
The use of this feature will allow wireless access only to the devices listed by yourself. Every network device has a unique MAC (Media Access Control) address. Although the MAC address can be easily spoofed by a skilled person, it is not so widely used as a way to get access to someone’s network.
And if you need to grant access to another device, all you have to do is to find its MAC address. For Windows based PCs or laptops the MAC address can be easily found via the Command prompt and the IPCONFIG/ALL command. It is listed as Physical address.
Use WPA2 encryption
In order to secure your wireless connection it is recommended to use WPA2 encryption. By doing this it will become harder for “someone” access your network and use your connection. Just make sure to use a strong password.
One thing people often neglect in their efforts to secure their wireless network is to position the router properly. Basically the only thing we have to do here is to place the router somewhere in our home (for example, the center of the flat or house), so that we receive an excellent signal, while the signal sent out of our home is very low (ideally equal to zero).
Turn off wireless when you are away
In case you are going to be away for a period of time, it is best to switch your wireless router off. By doing this you can be sure that no one will gain access to your wireless network.