How to secure your home network

Woman plugging in wifi router

You aim to keep your home secure, but are you keeping your home network open? A protected home network shuts out cybercriminals and allows your family to use the internet more safely. Having a secure network is crucial to keeping your personal and financial information safe. Wi-Fi doesn’t stop within the walls of your home—it extends further than that. If hackers are within range of your network, they can access your Wi-Fi and do a number of things to your connected devices, like spread malware or access personal login details. Learn how to secure your home network and safeguard your information:

Ensure your devices are updated

First, ensure all internet-enabled devices run the latest operating system, web browsers, and security software. This includes mobile devices that access your wireless network. Hackers are always looking for new ways to steal data, and keeping your software updated is an easy way to step ahead. If you don’t already, install software updates as soon as they’re available.

Secure your wireless router

A wireless network is when you connect an internet access point—such as a cable or DSL modem—to a wireless router. Wireless is now essential in many homes because it allows you to connect multiple devices to the internet from different areas of your home. However, if you don’t secure your router, you’re vulnerable to people accessing the information on your computer, freeloading off your internet service, and (potentially) using your network to commit cybercrimes.

How to secure your wireless router:

Change the name of your router

The default ID—called a “service set identifier” (SSID) or “extended service set identifier” (ESSID)—is assigned by the manufacturer. Change your router to a name that is unique to you and won’t be guessed by others.

Change the preset passphrase on your router

Keeping the router’s manufacturer default passphrase in place makes it much easier for hackers to access your network. Change your router’s passphrase right away. A strong passphrase uses at least 12 characters and includes letters, numbers, and symbols. The strongest passphrases are not recognizable words.

Review security options

When choosing your router’s level of security, opt for WPA2, if available, or WPA – these levels are more secure than the WEP option.

Create a guest passphrase

Some routers allow guests to use networks via separate guest passphrases. If you have many visitors to your home, it’s a good idea to set up a second network just for guests. A second network allows visitors to connect to your Wi-Fi without being able

Use a firewall

Firewalls keep hackers from using your device to send out your personal information without your permission. While antivirus software scans incoming emails and files, a firewall is like a guard, watching for attempts to access your system and blocking communications with sources you don’t permit. Your operating system or security software likely comes with a pre-installed firewall, but make sure you turn on these features.

Protect your account with these tips:

Even with a secure network, it’s still critical to ensure your account itself is protected.

Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Whenever offered, use two-factor authentication or MFA like biometrics, security keys, or a unique, one-time code through an app on your mobile device.

Use long, unique passphrases

Your password should be at least 12 characters long with a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. It should also be unique—avoid reusing the same passphrases you use for other accounts, like online banking or social media.

Bottom Line

Your network extends beyond the walls of your home. So, just like you keep your home secure, it’s crucial to secure your network, too. This is part five of an 11-part series on cybersecurity and how you can protect yourself online in today’s digital age. For more educational tools and tips, visit our Learning center.

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