Many people have Wi-Fi connections set up in their homes. It allows them to connect to the Internet conveniently on their laptops, tablets and other devices. With this convenience comes an added Internet security risk.
Sometimes people try to use their neighbor’s unsecured Wi-Fi connection to obtain a free Internet connection. If they should engage in illegal downloads or other Internet crimes, the IP address may point authorities to the wrong person.
More dangerously, hackers may use these connections to intercept personal and financial data from their victims.
To prevent these possible problems, users should take precautions with their home networks. Below are some tips for maintaining one’s home Wi-Fi security.
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Place the Router or Access Point in a Strategic Location
The thing that protects users most from hacker interference with their Wi-Fi connections is the need for physical proximity. Hackers must be located within the Wi-Fi’s signal range.
A wireless router placed within the home will allow the signal to broadcast outside the physical boundaries of the house. While this feature allows users to browse the Internet outside during pleasant weather, it also provides a path for hackers to gain entry.
By positioning the router near the center of the home, the range of its outside signal will be limited. If one places the router near an outside wall facing the street, a hacker may be able to work from the convenience of a parked vehicle.
Users setting up Wi-Fi connections in apartments or other close living quarters will not be able to limit their connections to their property and should therefore take additional precautions.
Change the Default SSID and Administrator Passwords
When users set up their access points or routers, they are given default SSIDs and administrator passwords. Oftentimes, the SSID (Service Set Identifier) name is the same for all routers made by the same manufacturer. If hackers find a wireless connection that is still called by its default SSID, they know it is l an easy one to break into.
Likewise, the manufacturer will provide users with a default administrator password. Users need this password to set up their system on the device’s embedded webserver. There they will enter information such as their account information and firewall configuration.
These passwords are generally very simple and widely known. Users are advised to change the administrator password immediately when setting up their networks.
A very secure password using both upper and lower case letters as well as numbers and special characters is highly recommended.
Use WEP or WPA Encryption
Data encryption scrambles data that users send over their wireless networks. This will prevent snoopers within a user’s signal range from intercepting any information that is being sent.
All Wi-Fi equipment can support WEP and WPA encryption. However users can opt for only one of the two:
- WEP (Wireless Encryption Protocol) provides security for your device by encrypting data over radio waves as it is transmitted. However, this protocol uses static key encryption and does not prevent hackers from actually intercepting the data.
While difficult, the data can eventually be decrypted. This is therefore the least secure of the two options.
- WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) is a newer technology that is more secure and provides stronger data encryption. However, as a relatively new technology, not all devices are configured to be compatible with WPA.
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If all of a user’s devices are configured for WPA, it is clearly the better choice. However, if any of the devices are not, users must resort to the WEP protocol.
Utilize MAC Address Filtering
A MAC address is a unique identifier that is assigned to each piece of Wi-Fi gear. Access points and routers will monitor the MAC address of every device that connects through them. Manufacturers of Wi-Fi routers and access points will often include an option that allows users to enter the MAC codes of all their home equipment. They may then restrict all access to the network to only those devices.
Doing this is a wise preventive measure but it is not foolproof. Many hackers are adept at faking MAC address and can bypass this security measure.
All in all, taking all possible security measure with one’s home Wi-Fi connection is important and highly recommended. Or a VPN for iPhone or Android phones should be considered to secure the connection. While no one thing is completely secure on its own, together these measures create a strong barrier against hackers.