“I don’t know why my internet is running so slow” is how the call started last week. What I discovered was a lot worse than just slow Netflix and laggy Fortnite – someone had hacked her WiFi and was able to remotely switch on her computer’s camera and stream everything she was doing. “Its time to secure your WiFi!”
To confirm my finding, I blocked access to the hacker, moved her laptop to face the wall, and then reenabled it. Within minutes we watched in horror as her laptop’s camera was switched on!
After that incident, I wondered how many other people have the same issue without knowing about it. So if you want to know how you can protect your WiFi then don’t worry I got you, I will show you the 7 steps you need to take right now!
7 steps to secure your WiFi:
1. Update your router’s firmware
Routers are shipped with software already installed. However, since the release of that software bugs have been discovered, improvements have been made, and security holes have been patched.
You must update the firmware of your router to the latest version so all those improvements are enabled on your device.
To update the firmware, access your router and look for the firmware version. Then head over to the manufacturer’s website, find your router and look for the latest version. This is typically written with a date and a version number. If yours is 45sdfg_v2 and you see 45sdfg_v3, download the new one. Follow the prompts on the site and install it.
2. Don’t use the default WiFi name
Don’t label your WiFi as Mike WiFi or The Smiths Upstairs WiFi but use a random WiFi name that doesn’t give away any info about you, or its location.
3. Admin Username and Password
Most router’s these days insist that you change the Admin password when you set up the router for the first time.
A simple search on Google can reveal what the default username and password is for most routers so if you skip this step, you are vulnerable. I found this list in the first search…
Ideally, change the password but also change the username from Admin to something else. Of course, use a strong password that can’t be found in a dictionary! Number, letters, lower case/ upper case, special characters etc.
4. Use WPA2 always.
When you set up your WiFi, you have a choice of the type of encryption to use when someone wants to connect to the WiFi. You can secure your WiFi with WEP, WPA or WPA2.
Use WPA2 as that is currently the most secure encryption protocol and most devices bought after 2016 are WP2 AES compatible. It is worth mentioning that even WPA2 has a vulnerability called Krack but its the current industry standard until we get WPA3 which is the next replacement.
5. Disable Remote Access
To manage your router, you would typically connect to the network first and then type in the router’s address. Routers also have the option to allow for Remote Access so technically, someone else could manage your router from outside your network.
There is no reason to have that on permanently. If you do need it for any reason, you can switch it on temporarily while your tech person helps you and then disable it again.
6. Who is connected
Routers will have a facility to see every device that is connected to your network (both wired and wireless.) There will be a list of devices that you should recognize such as your family’s cell phones, tablets, and laptops.
You will also see some strange connections. Don’t panic. These could be your smart TV, security camera, voice assistant, smart home plugs, etc.
You need to identify each one.
You can do that, by switching every device off including the WiFi. Then switch on the WiFi and each device one by one. As each device connects, you should be able to rename it to a meaningful name.
It’s a bit of a process but well worth doing and you do it only once. From that point on, anything new that appears on your network – be suspicious.
7. Limit access to secure your WiFi
Now that you can identify each device, you should lock down the WiFi to reject any new connections. This means that only the devices you recognize will be able to log on and everything else will be rejected.
What happens when your friends or family come over? Just enable Guest WiFi. That is a Wifi that is separated from your main network and still provides guests with internet access.
I have no idea why everyone doesn’t use the Guest WiFi and gives out the keys to their entire network. Not that you don’t trust your friends, but you have no idea if there is some dodgy software on their phone that is now spreading to your entire network unbeknownst to them.
Check out some more tips on how to get faster WiFi and do you know what’s the difference between WiFi Extenders and Mesh WiFi ?