Your router is one of the most important entities on your network. It sits between the local network and the Internet. It can be configured as a firewall too, to protect your office LAN or home network. This post gives you five tips to secure your router. It also has a bonus tip to add more protection to the router and Wi-Fi.
How to secure your WiFi Router
Here is a glimpse of what you are going to read below.
- Good password for the router
- Update firmware
- Encrypt using WPA2 or later methods
- Change password for Wi-Fi regularly
- Disable WPS
- Filter MAC addresses (Media Access Control) addresses.
1] Use a good password
Let’s start with the most basic thing – changing the router password. Router manufacturers keep the default ID “admin” and password as “password”. You have to change it before you connect the router, and thereby your whole home or office network, to the Internet.
To log into the router, open your browser and type 192.168.1.1 in its address bar. Enter “admin” in the ID textbox and “password” in the password textbox. If that doesn’t work, use “admin” for both ID and password. You may also try “password” in both ID and password fields. Do not include the quotes when typing in the ID and password. If you still have problems logging into your router, google with the router make and model or ask for it by contacting the manufacturer’s online support systems.
Create a good password for your router. Use at least 12 characters: a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, some numbers, and some special character. Don’t use weak passwords – including your spouse’s name, your flat or plot number, pin code for your area. All these can be easily broken by hackers so go for better passwords.
I recommend using one of the password managers such as Lastpass to your browsers so that you can have them log you in even if you don’t remember your passwords. You need to remember the master password only, in case of password managers.
2] Update Firmware
This method too requires logging into the router. Your router address is 192.168.1.1 that we’ve mentioned above. You have to enter the numbers into the address bar of your browser. Once on the router page, log in. From the list of side or upper menu, look for the “Backup” option. It may also be titled “Update”.
Click on the option to upgrade the router. This will ask you to select a file from your computer storage. Select “Browse” and find the router firmware update file. Click on “Apply”. The latest firmware is provided by your devices’ manufacturer on their website that needs to be downloaded to your computer. If you can’t find it on the website of your router manufacturer, call them up and ask for the link to the firmware upgrade.
Most routers upgrade themselves, but older routers still have to be manually upgraded. By upgrading your router, you are adding more protection: the latest bug fixes and patches for known issues.
3] Encrypt Wi-Fi using WPA2 or later methods
This option too is available via the router control panel page. You have to log in and go to the page that contains the option to encrypt files using WEP, WPA, or WPA2. Always select WPA2 or later options. Of the three mentioned in this post, WPA2 is most secure for your Wi-Fi.
4] Change the default name & password for Wi-Fi
You should change your default Wi-Fi name and password. You should also change this regularly. That will help the unwanted baggage to be removed from your Internet connection. It may happen that someone else is piggy banking on your Internet connection for personal needs. You can find out if there are any unwanted connections using software like Who is on my Wi-Fi?
Changing the password may mean logging into your Wi-Fi devices again, but it also helps in shedding unwanted baggage in the form of people using your Internet connection for their needs.
5] Disable Wi-Fi Protected Setup
Some routers and gears come with a switch that enables Wi-Fi Protected Setup. Wi-Fi Protected Setup is generally known as WPS. The method may seem easier than giving away your password to clients. But the method is susceptible to brute force attacks and may let hackers hack into your router and from there, into your Wi-Fi.
Read: How to fix Public and Home Wi-Fi Network vulnerabilities.
6] Filter MAC addresses (Media Access Control) addresses
Every device on your network has a MAC (Media Access Control) address. It is like IP addresses but is actually a separate address to identify devices on your computer network. Check out what all devices you wish to connect to the router. Note down their MAC addresses and configure your router so that only the devices with specified MAC addresses can connect to your Internet.
It is not that the MAC IDs can’t be spoofed. Hackers may spoof MAC addresses, but first, they need to know the MAC address to create a similar one on their devices for which, they’ll have to access your router.
I hope the above helps. Comment below to let us know about more methods to secure your router.