Protect your home Wi-Fi from hackers. Here’s how

This story is part of home tipsCNET’s collection of practical tips for making the most of your home, inside and out.

Your home network may not be as secure as you think. Just last year, cybercrime cost people in the US More than $6.9 billionWhile phishing and scams contributed to the losses, Personal data breaches It was also an important factor. In many cases, these personal data breaches could have been prevented with a little home network security.

The average American home now has More than 10 devices home connected Wi-Fi. From laptops and tablets to phones, smart watches And the broadcasting devicesThings pile up quickly, and they’re all vulnerable to hacking. With so much data stored on those devices – Credit card bank numbers and records, Login credentials and other personal and private information – you want to make sure you protect yourself from hackers if your network gets hacked.

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A secure home network will help reduce the risk of being hacked and someone gaining access to your sensitive information. Not only that, but it will banish unwanted or unauthorized users and devices which will slow down your connection or free download on the internet service you pay for.

It is very easy to create and maintain a secure home Wi-Fi network. Below, you’ll find 10 tips for securing your network. Some are more effective than others at keeping hackers and freelancers at bay, but all are useful in their own way. Keep in mind that nothing can guarantee absolute security from hacking attempts, but these tips will definitely make it difficult for anyone to hack your network and data.

How to secure a home Wi-Fi network

Here are the basics of protecting your home Wi-Fi network. Keep 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 login credentials for the router.

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

5. Create a guest network.

6. Use a VPN.

7. Keep your router and devices updated.

8. Disable remote access to the router.

9. Check the connected devices.

10. Upgrade to a WPA3 router.

Put 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 you connected to the boundaries of your home. As a reward, you will likely also give to The best connection quality.

For example, if you have Internet in the apartment Where the neighbors are immediately to your left and right, placing your router next to a shared wall can send a powerful and tempting signal their way. Even if you’re not in an apartment, a good router It can cast signals nearby or across the street. Placing your router in a central location will help reduce the distance these signals travel outside your home.

Create a strong Wi-Fi password and change it often

this is should Go without saying, but I’ll cover it so far to stress its importance. Creating a unique password for your Wi-Fi network is essential to maintaining a secure connection. Avoid passwords or phrases that are easy to guess, such as a person’s name, birthdays, phone numbers, or other common information. While simple Wi-Fi passwords make it easy to remember, they also make it easier for others to figure out. (over here How to access router settings to update Wi-Fi password.)

Be sure to change your password every six months or so, or anytime you think your network security has been compromised.

the bottom of the router

Chris Munro/CNET

Change the default login credentials of the router

Similar to password protecting your Wi-Fi network, you’ll also need to prevent anyone from directly accessing your router’s settings. To do that, go ahead and change the admin name and password for your router. You can log into your router’s settings by typing its IP address into the URL bar, but most routers and providers have an app that allows you to access the same settings and information.

Your router’s login credentials are separate from your Wi-Fi name and password. If you are not sure of the default setting, you should be able to find it at the bottom of the router. Or, if it was changed from the default somewhere along the way, again, Here’s how to access your router settings To update your username and password.

Turn on the firewall and Wi-Fi encryption

Most routers have a firewall to prevent external hacking, as well as Wi-Fi encryption to prevent anyone from eavesdropping on data being sent back and forth between the router and the connected devices. Both are usually active by default, but you’ll need to check to make sure they’re turned on.

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

Create a Wi-Fi network for guests

“Can I get the Wi-Fi password?” It is without a doubt something all hosts have heard. Before sharing access to your home network, consider Create a separate guest network for visitors. I’m not suggesting that your guests try to do anything nefarious with your main Wi-Fi connection, but their devices or anything they download while connected to your network may be infected with malware or viruses targeting your network without them knowing it.

The guest network is also ideal for your IoT devices, such as Wi-Fi camerasAnd the thermostats And the smart speakers Devices that may not contain a lot of sensitive information and may be easier to hack than smarter devices such as a computer or phone.

A phone with VPN letters and Wi Fi logo on the screen

James Martin / CNET

Use a VPN

There are several reasons to use a file Good VPNNetwork security is definitely one of them. Among other things, the VPN hides your IP address and Wi-Fi activity, including browsing data.

VPNs are perhaps most useful when connected to a public network, but they can still add a level of security and privacy to your home network. Some VPNs are better than others, but like anything else, you often get what you pay for. Free VPN services are available, but paying a little extra (seriously, a few dollars a month) will yield much better results, Safer Service.

Keep your router and devices up to date

Software updates always seem to pop up when you need to be online most often. Although they can be annoying, they have a purpose and they often include security updates. When companies become aware of potential or exposed security vulnerabilities, they release updates and patches to reduce or eliminate risks. you want to download it.

Keeping your router and connected devices up to date will help ensure that you have the best protection against malware and known hacking attempts. Set your router to update automatically in the administrator settings, if applicable, and check periodically to make sure your router is up to date.

Disable remote access to the router

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

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

Check connected devices

Frequently check the devices connected to your network and check that you know what they are. If anything looks suspicious, unplug it and change your Wi-Fi password. You will have to reconnect all your previously connected devices after changing your password, but any users or devices that are not authorized to use your network will get the boot up.

Some devices, especially obscure ones from the Internet of Things, may have some individual default names for random numbers and letters that you don’t immediately recognize. If you come across something like this when checking your connected devices, go ahead and unplug them. Later, when you can’t start playing a file robot vacuum cleaner From your phone, you’ll know that’s what it was.

Upgrade to a WPA3 router

WPA3 is the latest security protocol for routers. All new routers must be WPA3 enabled, so if you buy a new router, you don’t have to worry there. However, many people rent their routers directly from the provider, which may not include the latest equipment.

If your router was made before 2018, you likely have a WPA2 device, which lacks the same level of security protocols as newer WPA3 devices. A quick search for your device model should tell you when it shows and any specific features such as whether it has WPA2 or WPA3. If you have a router with WPA2, Contact your provider and negotiate For a better and newer router.

Network security is not a guarantee

Again, even with the newest and most effective ways to protect your home network, security will never be 100% certain. As long as the Internet exists, hackers and cybercriminals will find ways to exploit it. But with the tips above, we hope you can keep your network safer than anyone trying to use your connection or access your data.

For more information, check out How do you know if your Internet provider is throttling your Wi-Fi network and us Tips on how to speed up your Wi-Fi connection.

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