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How to secure your home network from hackers

In a place with many devices that connect to the internet like an office or at home, there’s always a router that provides this WiFi connection. As time passes and the password to that router gets spread around, it’s easier for your network to be compromised.

The fact that a WiFi signal can extend to neighboring places makes it easier to hack into than, say, physical networks. There are two key points that you should be aware of when you’re trying to secure your home network.

1) Controlling exactly who can get on your network, and 2) Signal Footprint.

If a signal from your router is picked up, your data can be compromised.So here are a couple of things you have to do to provide your network with more security.

1. Use an anti-malware software

When it comes to protecting your network, an anti-malware software seems like the intuitive solution.

This is especially true for devices like laptops, tablets, and smartphones because their portability enables you to connect them to the public internet and thereby multiple access points, which makes them easier targets for infections. 

You can ensure your cyber security with programs like the one that Bitdefender offers and which provides protection for Mac, PC, Android, Security for Smart Home, Small Office Security, and Complete Protection. Also, It provides a free IoT Scanner.

2. Make your router’s password complicated, and update it frequently

Creating a complicated password makes it harder for other people to remember it and pass it on and gives you the opportunity to type it on the other person’s phone instead of telling it to them.

Changing it frequently ensures that if anyone laid hands on your password without your knowledge, he or she wouldn’t have it for long.

3. Get rid of the default admin credentials

Every router has a console that can be accessed from any device that is connected to the network. They’re usually the same for every router produced by the same manufacturer.

This isn’t the same as just simply connecting to the network as it gives you control over the network configuration.

If someone else gets to the admin console and changes the password, they can lock you out of your own network. You can usually find the default login details in the booklet that came with your router.

Once you do, look around the menu system for the account details and create a unique password for your router.

4. Limit WPS

This is sort of a sequence step for the previous one. WPS (WiFi Protected Setup) enables your devices such as consoles and smart TVs to sustain a presence on the network even if you change the password needed to connect. I

t is safer to rely on the WPS button found on your router to send out the signal that adds the device to the network instead of the 8-character numeric code. If your router doesn’t have one, it would be a safer choice to turn WPS off completely.

5. Make your WiFi encryption strong

If your WiFi has weak encryption, anyone can easily crack, access, and modify your online activity.

Generally, there are 3 types of protection systems to secure the transmissions so the contents of the transmission can only be read by the user’s device and the WiFi router, and these are: Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), WiFi Protected Access (WPA), and WiFi Protected Access 2 (WPA 2).

The latter is the one you should be using. Better yet, you should use its strengthened version: the WPA 2 AES. You can choose these settings in the router console.

6. Turn off Plug and Play

Although UPnP is very helpful for your devices to discover the network and communicate with the manufacturer for firmware updates and supplies as well as the creation of the Internet of Things (IoT), it can be a very channel for hackers.

This is why you should switch off the UPnP capabilities of a device once you’ve connected it and set it up.

7. Switch off remote management

This feature allows you to access the console of the router from devices that aren’t connected to the network, and if you can do that, then anyone else can.

8. Make sure your router’s firmware is up to date

If the firmware updates aren’t automatic on your gateway, you should regularly check for any updates on the router manufacturer’s website and install them.

You should also look for the security patches that the manufacturer releases when there is an exploit (security weakness) is discovered.

9. Turn off the firewall

Chances are, your router has a firewall on it that you haven’t turned on. You can make sure it’s turned on in the console settings.

WiFi routers have a NAT (Network Address Translation) system that assigns each computer on your network a unique address that is only known to the router which does not represent you on the internet.

Instead, the router has its own internet address which used to connect to the outside world. This prevents anyone from identifying the address of individual devices on the network.

10. Use a VPN

VPNs or Virtual Private Networks are usually used to enhance privacy on the internet and they can also help protect your router from intruders. This is especially helpful if the devices connected to your home or office network are used to connect to other hotspots of public places such as cafes or restaurants. 

Hackers use an intermediary (the public WiFi hotspot) to gain access to the data of the people who connect to them, and then sneak malware into your device so that they can access your home network afterward. 

Since a VPN encrypts all of the traffic from and to your computer and all the way to a remote server, intermediaries won’t be able to use this method to compromise your security.

And the good thing about VPN protection is that it goes beyond the router, so even if the router’s encryption is compromised, your VPN encryption will still make your data unreadable.