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Critical steps to secure your home Wi-Fi

Critical steps to secure your home Wi-Fi
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Remember the days of dial-up when you had to plug your computer into the phone jack whenever you wanted to go online? The connection was slower, but at least you didn't have to worry about snoopy neighbors stealing your Wi-Fi.

When the router came along, more options for flexible browsing came along with it. But, it was also another piece of equipment to worry about. Without proper security, the very tool that provided you with access to the internet anywhere in your home also opened the door to let others into your network. Some of which, you hadn't invited.

Protect your family from prowlers and snoops using your internet, here are five tips for locking down your home Wi-Fi network.

1. Don't use WPS set up

It's tempting to take the easy way out when it comes to setting up your router, but doing so can cause you major problems down the road.

Some routers allow instant device connections with a simple push of a button, skipping the need for passwords or keys. This system is called WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) or sometimes referred to as EZ setup depending on your router brand.

Although convenient, WPS has its own security risks as well.

Your WPS password can usually be found as a printed sticker under a router. The problem is, hackers are developing algorithms that actively guess these passwords. With a backdoor directly into your router, hackers can monitor every bit of traffic that goes to and from your router.

Don't stop there. Click here for seven other things you're doing that jeopardize your security.

2. Rename your network

When you're first getting started, your network name is typically determined for you by your internet service provider. But you can change this, and it's a good idea.

This step doesn't really make your network more secure but it does help in making your network easier to manage. For example, when you or a guest signs in, you won't have to remember cryptic model names like D-Link AC1900 or Linksys WRT3200. Instead, you can assign a name that's easy to remember.

While you're at it, take a few minutes to ensure your router's firmware is up to date. Click here for a helpful guide.

3. Change your router password

When you unbox your router, you'll notice a password has already been assigned to you. However, it's important to note that router manufacturers frequently reuse these passwords. This means they're not unique.

There are even sites that help find any router's password in just a few seconds. Although helpful when setting up your own router, this information can be used against you if you haven't changed the router's default admin credentials.

Additionally, strengthen your network with a reliable encryption protocol and a strong security password. To achieve this encryption, the recommended setting on your router is called WPA2. This setting will be a drop down option within the security options.

Note: Every router is a bit different, so you'll need to refer to your router's user manual.

4. Confirm your router's management page isn't available online

Many modern gadgets boast about their web-connected capabilities. You see it all the time: "On the go," and, "Access from anywhere."

While these features do help for the sake of convenience, they also make it easier for people to hack into your network remotely. Your router, in particular, is one gadget you don't want (or need) to access on the go. Instead, you want to lock down your login.

Modern routers usually have features that allow settings to be changed remotely, over the internet. Although useful in certain scenarios, if you don’t need to manage your router remotely, make sure that you disable this option.

This feature varies depending on your router model, but look through your router’s settings for something like 'Remote Management' and make sure it is turned off.

If you're concerned that outsiders may be stealing your Wi-Fi, click here for an easy way to see every gadget that's using your network.

5. Don't overlook any networks or devices

Modern households may contain more than one Wi-Fi network, and will most likely have numerous devices that can connect. Updating the login credentials for one network is simply not enough. For total security, you need to update all of them.

One simple way to protect your more critical personal devices, like your personal computers, smartphones, and tablets, is to put them on a separate network that's different from your main one.

You can do this by setting up a completely different Wi-Fi router or by simply enabling your router's "Guest Network" option, a popular feature for most routers.

Guest networks are meant for visitors to your home who might need a Wi-Fi internet connection but you don't want them gaining access to the shared files and devices within your network. This segregation will also work for your smart appliances and it can shield your main devices from specific cyberattacks.

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