Internet security begins with you and securing your router should be the first step taken in creating a safe online environment.
With data thieves and connection squatters around every corner, you should take the initiative to make your access point as secure as possible. To do so, consider the following measures as your first line of defense.
Note that your router is your firewall. It’s designed to protect you from hackers, viruses, worms, and other types of malware. Make the most of it by securing it from Day 1.
Secure Your Router a.k.a. Access Point
A WLAN router is also known as the “access point.” And therein lies the vulnerability: access. You don’t want just anyone to access your connection and possibly, your computer. Thus, you should secure it. To do so:
- Change the default password. Routers come with a default password that every hacker knows. By changing it upon setup, you diminish the odds of someone cracking the code. You’ll want to change the password to a “strong” one, meaning one that’s as obscure as possible. A numbers generator comes in handy here.
- Set your WPA key. WPA stands for “Wi-Fi Protected Access,” which is exactly what you want to strengthen. Similar to your router’s password, be sure to choose a strong password (i.e. random) for the WPA key.
- Disable remote management. The chances are slim you’ll need remote management of your router. There could be an occasion, but you will likely access your network directly every time. Thus, you should disable this feature to prevent anyone else from gaining “remote” access to your network.
- Disable SSID broadcast. Next, disable the SSID broadcast of your network. This will simply remove your access point from a list of “available networks.” Don’t tempt others from trying to squatter your connection.
- Turn off logging. Lastly, you should disable your router’s logging feature. By doing so, no record will be kept of your activity. Thus, you minimize the chances of someone following your activity and perhaps hacking your system. Note that this feature should be disabled by default. Just make sure that it is.
Supplemental Steps to Router Security
In addition to the above steps, you’ll want to also be mindful of the following when securing your router:
- If WPA key is unavailable, set your router for WEP or “Wired Equivalency Privacy”. Though not as secure as WPA, WEP is better than not having any protection at all.
- Control your computer’s environment. This is simply common sense: control physical access to your computer. Only let people you trust work with your machine.
- A numbers generator can be handy. As noted above, you want to choose a strong password or key for encryption. Numbers generators (e.g. Random.org) are helpful with finding the “right” password.
- Turn on MAC filtering. Specific to network adapters, MAC filtering is another encrypted level of security. Although MAC filtering can often be cracked, it’s nonetheless an additional measure that won’t hurt.
- And this is the simplest of all: Go back and review Steps 1-5.
Shut Your Router’s Door
Again, securing your router is your responsibility. Take the necessary steps and time to ensure your access point is secure and that no one but those authorized can use it. Theft of connectivity is only one concern. If you allow your computer to be open to this vulnerability, it also opens the door to malware and possible identity/data theft.
Bottom line: Be safe. Secure your router.