Protect Your Home Wi-Fi Network From Hackers: 10 Easy Tips

Protect Your Home Wi-Fi Network From Hackers: 10 Easy Tips

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

The number of devices connected to your home Wi-Fi network can really add up. Of laptops Y tablets a The telephones, Smart Watches Y streaming devicesthe average American household has more than 10 connected devices. Now consider the data stored on those devices. Credit card numbers, bank records, access credentials and other personal and private information is almost definitely there and may be accessible to hackers if your network is compromised.

Home network hacking happens too often. Internet crimes cost people more than $6.9 billion in 2021and while phishing and scams contributed to the losses, personal data breaches were also a significant factor. A secure home network will help reduce the risk of being hacked and someone accessing your sensitive information. Not only that, it will keep out unwanted or unauthorized users and devices that would slow down your connection or download the internet service you pay for.

It’s pretty simple to create and maintain a secure home Wi-Fi network. Below are 10 tips to protect your network. Some are more effective than others at keeping hackers and freeloaders 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 harder for anyone to compromise your network and data.

read more: Best Internet Service Providers of 2022

How to protect your home Wi-Fi network

These are the basics to secure your home Wi-Fi network. Read on to learn more about each below.

1. Put your router in a central location.

two. Create a strong Wi-Fi password and change it frequently.

3. Change the default router login credentials.

4. Turn on firewall and Wi-Fi encryption.

5. Create a guest network.

6. Use a VPN.

7. Keep your router and devices up to date.

8. Disable access to the remote 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 configuration. 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 your connection within the confines of your home. As a bonus, it will probably also work for the better connection quality.

For example, if you have Internet in an apartment where neighbors are immediately to the left and right of you, placing your router next to a shared wall could send a strong and enticing signal your way. Even if you’re not in an apartment, a good router can issue signals to the side or across the street. Placing your router in a central location will help reduce the distance those signals travel outside of your home.

Create a strong Wi-Fi password and change it frequently

East should It goes without saying, but I’m going to cover it yet to emphasize its importance. Creating a unique password for your Wi-Fi network is essential to maintaining a secure connection. Avoid easy-to-guess passwords or phrases, such as someone’s name, birthday, phone numbers, or other common information. While simple Wi-Fi passwords make them easy to remember, they also make them easy for others to discover. (Here it is how to access your router settings to update your Wi-Fi password.)

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

bottom of a router

Chris Monroe/CNET

Change the default router login credentials

Along the same lines of password-protecting your Wi-Fi network, you’ll also want to prevent someone from being able to directly access your router’s settings. To do so, go ahead and change your router’s admin name and password. You can log into your router settings by typing your IP address in the URL bar, but most routers and providers have an app that allows you to access the same settings and information.

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

Turn on firewall and Wi-Fi encryption

Most routers have a firewall to prevent outside hacking, as well as Wi-Fi encryption to prevent someone from eavesdropping on data being sent between your router and connected devices. Both are usually on by default, but you’ll want to check to make sure they’re turned on.

Now that you know how to log into your router settings, make sure the firewall and Wi-Fi encryption are enabled. If they are off for whatever reason, 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 certainly something that all the hosts have heard. Before you share access to your primary home network, consider creating a separate guest network for visitors. I’m not suggesting that your guests try anything nefarious with your main Wi-Fi connection, but their devices or anything they download while connected to your network could be infected with malware or viruses that make their way onto your network without them knowing.

A guest network is also ideal for your IoT devices, such as wifi cameras, thermostats Y smart speakers — Devices that may not contain much sensitive information and may be easier to hack than a smarter device like a computer or phone.

phone with VPN letters and Wi Fi logo on screen

James Martin/CNET

Use a VPN

There are some reasons to use a good vpn, and network security is definitely one of them. Among other things, a virtual private network hides your IP address and Wi-Fi activity, including browsing data.

VPNs are probably 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, you often get what you pay for. Free VPN services are available, but paying a little more (seriously, only a few dollars per month) will provide a better, safer service.

Keep your router and devices up to date

Software updates always seem to appear when you need to be online the most. While they can be annoying, they serve a purpose and often include security updates. When companies become aware of potential or exposed security vulnerabilities, they release updates and patches to minimize or eliminate the risk. You want to download those.

Keeping your router and connected devices up to date with the latest updates will help ensure you have the best protection against known malware and hacking attempts. Set your router to update automatically in the admin settings, if possible, and check back periodically to make sure your router is up to date.

Disable remote router access

Remote Router Access allows anyone not directly connected to your Wi-Fi network to access your router settings. Unless it’s necessary to access your router while you’re away from home—to check or change settings on a child’s connected device, for example—there should be no reason to enable remote access.

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

Check connected devices

Frequently check the devices that are connected to your network and verify that you know what they are. If anything in there looks suspicious, unplug it and change your Wi-Fi password. You’ll have to reconnect all of your previously connected devices after changing your password, but any user or device that isn’t authorized to use your network will get the boot.

Some devices, especially obscure IoT ones, can have some weird default names of random numbers and letters that you don’t immediately recognize. If you come across something like this when browsing your connected devices, go ahead and disconnect it. Later, when you can’t start your Vacuum cleaner robot 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 should come equipped with WPA3, so if you buy a new router, you should have nothing to worry about. However, many people rent their routers directly from the provider, which may not include the most up-to-date equipment.

If your router was manufactured before 2018, it may 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 came out and specific features, like whether it has WPA2 or WPA3. If you have a router with WPA2, call your supplier and negotiate for a newer and better router.

Network security is not a guarantee

Again, even with the latest and most effective methods to protect your home network, security will never be 100% secure. As long as the Internet exists, hackers and cybercriminals will find ways to exploit it. But with the tips above, you can hopefully keep your network safe from anyone trying to use your connection or access your data.

For more information, take a look how to tell if your internet provider is throttling your Wi-Fi and ours tips on how to speed up your Wi-Fi connection.

Leave a Comment