It seems incredible that at this point this issue is treated as something important to pay attention, but that has been, is and will be, as far as we can tell. Fortunately, securing a wi-fi network is very simple and does not take more than a few minutes. If you forgot how to do it, let us refreshen your memory; and if you had not even thought about it, we encourage you to get to work. Because the worst that can happen is not that your neighbor steal your internet.
It all starts with accessing the router’s settings and changing some default options. However, it is first necessary to warn you that one of the obstacles to overcome in the process that follows is that each router, with its obvious similarities in options with other models, usually have their differences and everything is not always exactly the same. Therefore, we must pay close attention.
0, Enter the router’s settings
The gateway to the router’s settings is usually on the address “192.168.1.1” (without the quotation marks), but it is not always so. If by introducing this in the address bar of the browser does not get you anywhere, you have to look for it. In Windows, you must go to “Start Menu> Run” and type “cmd”, which launches the command prompt. Type “ipconfig” and hit enter and the address will be labeled with “IPv4 Address” or something similar.
1-Change the password to access the router’s settings
What password? That should have been given to you by your network provider, along with the device documentation, or otherwise the manufacturer if you bought it yourself. The first time you log in is the first thing you must change, because network providers and manufacturers use elemental and too well known credentials. Usually you’ll find the option in the general preferences section of the router’s settings.
2-Change and hide the network name
In the wireless section you’ll find most configurations recalled by this guide, starting with the network name or SSID, which will be distinguishable because it will likely reference your network provider. Don’t overcomplicate it: use a simple name, because the only thing it’s for is to identify the network. If you also choose to hide it (look for “hidden access point” or “hide access point”) keep that in consideration, because you must enter it manually when setting up a new device. Hiding the SSID is a small plus, nothing more.
3-Establish the type of encryption
On PC4U we published an article devoted to every detail of this section, so you’re welcome to refer to that now. Suffice it to say that the recommendations have not changed and the optimal type of encryption to use is WPA2-PSK (AES). The times of WEP have passed and most new routers are configured by default with better protection, but it is even better if you check for yourself.
4-Change login password
As for the password, do not make it complicated. Think about the fact that the more devices can connect, the more the thing gets complicated: to send the password to a mobile is as simple as sending an sms; but to put it on a game console or a TV is another story. With characters 8-12 is more than enough (note: “pedrito22” is not a password, “e8L_aJxDfl” is a password).
5-Enable MAC filters
The MAC address is a network device identifier: cellphones, TVs, game consoles and the router itself, all have their MAC address, usually well hidden in the preferences of the device. The options allow you to create a white or black list and, therefore, allow or disallow connection of other devices.
WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) is an option that can streamline the process of connecting devices at one time, but knowing at minimum the router configuration is just not worth it. If by some chance it is enabled, disable it.
And it’s done! Was it really that difficult to secure a wireless network? Of course, these six steps are not going to shield against a well-versed attacker, but if you’re facing a freeloading neighbor or a not-so-bright little pirate, this is all it takes. Now you’re off to live your life and … Do you notice something odd in the connection? Do you believe it is still not properly secured? Do the following:
- Check occasionally connected devices, using for example a mobile application such as Fing (IOS | Android), which is extremely easy to use.
- Change your password regularly, works better than it seems.
What if, for any reason, you can not access the router configuration or something seems off? Reset it to factory settings using a little button on the router and start from the beginning. Note that under the device a sticker is usually added with connection information such the defaults SSID, encryption key and type.
Of course, it must be noted that in the world of computer security no solution is hundred percent foolproof. But something is much better than nothing.
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