Yes, Your Home Wi-Fi Can Be Hacked: These 10 Tips Can Prevent It

This is part of the story Home TipsCNET’s collection of practical tips for getting the most out of your home and inside.

Your home Wi-Fi network may not be as secure as you think. In 2021, cybercrime cost Americans dearly It is more than 6.9 billion dollars. Although phishing and scams cause losses, personal data breach was also important. In many cases, these personal data breaches could have been prevented with a little home network security.

The average US family has More than 10 devices connected to his house Wi-Fi network. From laptops and from tablets to phones, smart watches and streaming devices, the number can grow rapidly, and each one is potentially vulnerable to hacking. With so much data stored on these devices — credit card numbers, bank records, login credentials and other personal and private information — you want to make sure you protect yourself from hackers if your network is ever compromised.

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A secure home network will help reduce the risk of being hacked and someone accessing your confidential information. In addition, it will remove unwanted or unauthorized users and devices that slow down your connection or cause you to download your paid internet service for free.

Creating and maintaining a secure home Wi-Fi network is fairly simple. Below you will find 10 tips to protect your network. Some are more effective than others at keeping hackers and freeloaders out, but all are useful in their own way. Note that nothing can guarantee absolute security from hacking attempts, but these tips will make it harder for anyone to intercept your network and data.

How to secure your home Wi-Fi network

Here are the basics for securing your home Wi-Fi network. Continue reading for more information on each below.

1. Place your router in a central location.

2. Create a strong Wi-Fi password and change it often.

3. Change the default router login credentials.

4. Turn on the firewall and Wi-Fi encryption.

5. Create a guest network.

6. Use a VPN.

7. Keep your router and devices up to date.

8. Disable remote access to the router.

9. Check connected devices.

10. Upgrade to a WPA3 router.

Place your router in a central location

Strong network security starts with smart setup. If possible, place your router in the center of your home. Routers send wireless signals in all directions, so strategically placing your router in a central location will help keep your connection within the confines of your home. As a bonus, it will probably be for that too best connection quality.

For example, if Internet in the apartment Where neighbors are immediately to your left and right, placing your router next to a shared wall can send them a strong and attractive signal. Even if you are not in the apartment, a good router can signal to a neighbor or across the street. Placing your router in a central location will help reduce how far these signals travel outside your home.

Create a strong Wi-Fi password and change it often

This should do It goes without saying, but I’ll still cover it to emphasize its importance. Creating a unique password for your Wi-Fi network is essential to maintaining a secure connection. Avoid easily guessed passwords or phrases, such as someone’s name, birthday, phone number, or other general information. While simple Wi-Fi passwords make them easy to remember, they also make it easy for others to figure them out. (Here it is How to access your router settings to update your Wi-Fi password.)

Be sure to change your password every six months or so, or whenever you think your network security may have been compromised.

The bottom of the router

Chris Monroe/CNET

Change the default router login credentials

Along the same lines of password protecting your Wi-Fi network, you’ll also want to prevent anyone from directly accessing your router settings. To do this, go ahead and change your router’s admin name and password. You can access a router’s settings by typing its IP address into the URL bar, but most routers and providers have software that lets you access the same settings and information.

The router’s login credentials are separate from your Wi-Fi network name and password. If you’re not sure what the default is, you should be able to find it under your router. Or, if it was changed from the default somewhere along the way, here’s how to access your router settings to update username and password.

Turn on the firewall and Wi-Fi encryption

Most routers have a firewall to prevent outside hacks and prevent Wi-Fi encryption to prevent anyone from eavesdropping on data sent back and forth between your router and connected devices. Both are usually enabled by default, but you’ll want to check to make sure they’re enabled.

Now that you know how to access your router settings, make sure your firewall and Wi-Fi encryption are enabled. If they are turned off for any reason, turn them on. Your network security will thank you.

Create a guest Wi-Fi network

“Can I get the Wi-Fi password?” It’s certainly something that all homeowners have heard. Think before you share access to your main home network create a separate guest network for visitors. I’m not suggesting that your guests will try anything bad with your primary Wi-Fi connection, but their devices or anything they download while connected to your network could unknowingly be infected with malware or viruses that target your network.

A guest network is also ideal for your IoT devices, e.g Wi-Fi cameras, thermostats and smart speakers — devices that don’t hold very sensitive information and can be hacked more easily than smarter devices like computers or phones.

A phone with a VPN and Wi-Fi logo on the screen

James Martin/CNET

Use a VPN

There are several reasons to use a good VPN, and network security is one of them. A virtual private network hides your IP address and Wi-Fi activity, including browsing data.

VPNs are probably more useful when connected to a public network, but they can still add a layer of security and privacy to your home network. Some VPNs are better than others, but like anything, you often get what you pay for. Free VPN services are available, but paying a little extra (a few dollars a month) will provide better, more secure service.

Keep your router and devices up to date

Software updates always pop up when you need to be online the most. While they can be annoying, they have a purpose and that often includes security updates. When companies become aware of potential or open security vulnerabilities, they release updates and patches to minimize or eliminate the risk. You want to download these.

Keeping your router and connected devices current with the latest updates will help provide the best protection against known malware and hacking attempts. If possible, set your router to auto-update in admin settings and periodically check to make sure your router is up-to-date.

Disable remote access to the router

Remote router access allows anyone not directly connected to your Wi-Fi network to access the router’s settings. Unless you need to access your router while away from home (for example, to check or change the configuration of a child’s connected device), there should be no reason to enable remote access.

You can disable remote access under router admin settings. Unlike other security measures, disabled remote router access may not be the default.

Check connected devices

Check the devices connected to your network often and make sure you know what they are. If anything looks suspicious there, unplug it and change your Wi-Fi password. After you change your password, you’ll need to reconnect all your previously connected devices, but any user or device that doesn’t have permission to use your network will get a boot.

Some devices, especially non-specific IoT devices, may have single default names consisting of random numbers and letters that you don’t immediately recognize. If you see something like this while browsing your connected devices, disconnect them. Later, when you can’t get it to work robot vacuum cleaner you will know what it is from your phone.

Upgrade to a WPA3 router

WPA3 is the latest security protocol for routers. All new routers should be equipped with WPA3, so if you buy a new router, you should have nothing to worry about. However, many people rent their routers directly from the provider, which may not include the most up-to-date equipment.

If your router was made before 2018, you may have a WPA2 device, which does not have the same security protocols as newer WPA3 devices. A quick lookup of your device’s model should tell you when it was released and any special features like whether it’s WPA2 or WPA3. If you have a router with WPA2, call your provider and negotiate for a better, newer router.

Network security is not guaranteed

Still, even with the latest and most effective methods of securing your home network, security will never be 100% assured. As long as the internet exists, hackers and cybercriminals will find ways to exploit it. But with the tips above, you can better protect your network from anyone trying to use your connection or access your data.

Check for more information How to determine if your ISP is throttling Wi-Fi and ours Tips to speed up your Wi-Fi connection.

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