Tips for protecting your Wi-Fi network - Improve security

Hackers can take advantage of weak or insecure Wi-Fi networks to steal our personal data, spy on us, or carry out cyberattacks.

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Tips for protecting your Wi-Fi network

WiFi is a convenient and widely used technology for connecting various devices to the Internet wirelessly, but it comes with some security risks that we need to be aware of and protect ourselves from.

Hackers can take advantage of weak or insecure Wi-Fi networks to steal our personal data, spy on us, or carry out cyber attacks, so some steps should be taken to improve the security of Wi-Fi networks, whether at home or in public places.

1. Change the Wi-Fi password

The first thing to do when setting up a new Wi-Fi network or router is to change the default password. Virtual passwords are often easy to guess or find on the Internet. Therefore, not changing it will make your network vulnerable to hackers.

When choosing a new password, choose a unique word with at least 12 characters, and it should include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using any personal information such as your name, date of birth, or phone number.

2. Change the login password for the router settings

Another password that needs to be changed is the one that allows you to access and modify the router settings. This word differs from the one you use to connect your devices to a Wi-Fi network.

Most routers come with a default settings password written on the bottom of the device or on the box and can be easily found on the Internet, such as "admin" for both the username and password.

If you do not change this word, devices connected to the Wi-Fi network can access and change the settings of the router, which is why it must be changed.

3. Enable the WPA2 or WPA3 encryption standard

Encryption is the process of masking the data that is sent over a Wi-Fi network, making it unreadable by anyone who intercepts it. Encryption protects your privacy and prevents hackers from stealing your sensitive information such as passwords, credit card numbers, or emails.

Types of Encryption for Wi-Fi Networks

The most common types of encryption for Wi-Fi networks are the second generation of WPA2 and the third generation of WPA3. These two standards are the latest and most secure encryption standards available for Wi-Fi networks. So, check your router settings and make sure that one of these two criteria is enabled.

If your router only supports older encryption standards such as WEP or WPA, you should consider purchasing a new device that supports WPA2 or WPA3.

4. Disable the WPS feature

WPS stands for Wi-Fi Protected Setup, It is a feature that allows you to connect your devices to a Wi-Fi network by pressing the WPS button on the router or entering a PIN code.

Hackers can use a brute force attack to try all possible PIN codes or exploit vulnerabilities in the WPS protocol to gain access to a Wi-Fi network. So, you have to disable the WPS feature from the router settings and use the usual way to connect the devices by entering the Wi-Fi password.

5. Hide the network name

Users in the area who attempt to connect to a Wi-Fi network will see a list of available networks on their devices when they do so. If you hide your network name, they won't see it, which keeps hackers from trying to hack it.

6. Keep the router firmware updated

Firmware is the software that powers the router and controls its functions and features. Firmware updates are released by router manufacturers to fix bugs, improve performance, and add new security features.

Updating your router's firmware is crucial, as it can prevent hackers from exploiting the security holes and vulnerabilities found in older versions.

Enable automatic updates if the router supports this feature; if not, check its settings regularly and check for and install available firmware updates.

7. Use a VPN when connected to public Wi-Fi

A Virtual private network (VPN) refers to a service that creates a secure and encrypted connection between your device and a remote server over the Internet. It protects your privacy and security online by masking your address and encrypting your data.

A VPN is beneficial when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network, such as a coffee shop, airport, or hotel network, because these networks are usually not secure and open to anyone who wants to connect to them, which makes them more vulnerable to hacking.

But with a VPN, you can protect yourself from hackers who seek to snoop on your activities and gain access to your personal information.

It is also recommended to use a VPN when sending sensitive data over any Wi-Fi network, such as online banking or online shopping.

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8. Check your firewall

A firewall protects computers, phones, and all connected devices from malware, viruses, and unauthorized access. The router has a basic firewall that you should check if it is enabled.

If your router does not have a firewall, make sure that you have a firewall installed on your devices connected to that router.

9. Use an antivirus program

Some antivirus software has a feature that allows it to scan the Wi-Fi network you're connected to, detect all the devices connected to it, and alert you if any of them are suspicious.

You are advised to install antivirus software that supports this feature and scan your network every now and then to check the devices connected to the network and detect any unauthorized access.

10. Replace the router if necessary

Routers may become outdated or damaged over time, which affects the performance and security of the Wi-Fi network. Here are some signs that you may need to replace your router:

  • Your router has been around for over five years.
  • The router does not support WPA2 or WPA3 encryption standards.
  • You suffer from slow internet speed or frequent disconnections.
  • The router has physical damage or overheating issues.
  • The router is vulnerable to frequent hacking even though all security measures are in place.

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