Yes, hackers can attack your home Wi-Fi network. Here’s How To Protect It

This story is part of home tipsCNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, both indoors and out.

The average home in the US now has more than 10 devices connected to the house Wi-Fi network† From laptops and tablets to phones, smartwatches and streaming devices, things add up quickly. And with so much data stored on those devices — credit card numbers, bank details, credentials and other personal and private information — you want to make sure you protect yourself from hackers if your network is ever compromised.

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Hacking into home networks is all too common. Internet crime cost people more than $6.9 billion in 2021and while phishing and scams contributed to the losses, breaches of personal data were also an important factor. A secure home network helps reduce the risk of someone being hacked and gaining access to your sensitive information. Not only that, it keeps away unwanted or unauthorized users and devices that would slow down your connection or charge the internet service you pay for for free.

It is quite easy to create and maintain a secure home Wi-Fi network. Below you will find 10 tips to secure your network. Some are more effective than others at keeping hackers and freeloaders at bay, but they’re all useful in their own way. Keep in mind that nothing can guarantee absolute security against hacking attempts, but these tips will make it harder for anyone to compromise your network and data.

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How to secure your home Wi-Fi network

Here are the basics for protecting your home Wi-Fi network. Keep reading to learn more about each below.

1† Place your router in a central location.

2† Create a strong Wi-Fi password and change it often.

3† Change the router’s default credentials.

4† Enable 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 remote router access.

9† Check connected devices.

10† Upgrade to a WPA3 router.

Place your router in a central location

Strong network security starts with a smart installation. If possible, place your router in the center of your house. Routers send wireless signals in all directions, so strategically placing your router in a central location keeps you connected to the boundaries of your home. As a bonus, it will probably also take care of the best connection quality

For example, if you internet in an apartment where neighbors are immediately to your left and right, placing your router next to a shared wall can send a strong and tantalizing signal their way. Even if you are not in an apartment, a good router can send signals next door or across the street. Placing your router in a central location can reduce the distance these signals travel outside of your home.

Create a strong WiFi password and change it often

This one should it goes without saying, but I am going to discuss it further to emphasize its importance. Creating a unique password for your Wi-Fi network is essential for maintaining a secure connection. Avoid easy-to-guess passwords or phrases, such as a person’s name, birthdays, phone numbers, or other common information. While simple Wi-Fi passwords make them easy to remember, they also make it easy for others to figure them out. (Here is how to access your router settings to update your wifi password

Make sure to change your password every six months or so, or any time you think your network security has been compromised.

bottom of a router

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Changing the router’s default credentials

Along the same lines as password protecting your Wi-Fi network, you also want to prevent anyone from accessing your router settings directly. To do this, go ahead and change the administrator name and password for your router. You can log into your router settings by typing the 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’s 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 on the bottom of the router. Or, if it’s 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 the firewall and Wi-Fi encryption

Most routers have a firewall to prevent outside hacking, as well as Wi-Fi encryption to prevent anyone from eavesdropping on the data being sent back and forth between your router and connected devices. Both are usually active by default, but you should make sure they are enabled.

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

Create a guest WiFi network

“Can I get the WiFi password?” is undoubtedly something that all hosts have heard. Before you share access to your main home network, consider: create a separate guest network for visitors. I’m not suggesting that your guests try anything malicious 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 targeting your network without them knowing it. know.

A guest network is also ideal for your IoT devices, such as: Wi-Fi camerasthermostats and smart speakers — devices that may not contain much sensitive information and may be easier to hack than a smarter device such as a computer or phone.

phone with letters VPN and Wi-Fi logo on screen

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Use a VPN

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

VPNs are probably more 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 everything else, you often get what you pay for. There are free VPN services available, but paying a little extra (seriously, just a few dollars a month) delivers a much better, safer service

Keep your router and devices up to date

Software updates always seem to show up 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 it.

Keeping your router and connected devices up to date with the latest updates ensures the best protection against known malware and hacking attempts. Set your router to update automatically in the administrator settings, if possible, and regularly check that your router is up to date.

Disable Remote Router Access

With remote router access, anyone not directly connected to your Wi-Fi network can access the router settings. Unless it is necessary to access your router while you are away from home, say to check or change the configuration of a child’s connected device, there should be no reason to have remote access enabled.

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

Verify connected devices

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

Some devices, especially obscure IoT devices, may have some strange default names of random numbers and letters that you don’t immediately recognize. If you come across anything like this when examining your connected devices, go ahead and unplug it. Later, if you can’t start with you robot vacuum cleaner from your phone you know it was that.

Upgrade to a WPA3 router

WPA3 is the latest security protocol for routers. All new routers must be equipped with WPA3, so if you buy a new router, you don’t have to worry about that. However, many people rent their routers directly from the provider, who may not have the most up-to-date equipment.

If your router was made before 2018, you may have a WPA2 device, which lacks the same level of security protocols as newer WPA3 devices. A quick search for your device’s model should tell you when it came out and any specific features, such as whether it has WPA2 or WPA3. If you have a router with WPA2, call your provider and negotiate for a better, more recent router.

Network security is not a guarantee

Again, even with the most recent and effective methods of protecting your home network, security will never be 100% certain. As long as there is internet, hackers and cybercriminals will find ways to exploit it. But hopefully with the tips above you can better secure your network from anyone trying to use your connection or access your data.

For more, check out how do you know if your internet service provider is throttling your wifi and our tips for speeding up your wifi connection

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