Anyone within range of your router could be accessing your home network. This unknown user could be using your Internet or reading your personal files. There are steps you can take to strengthen the security of your router and prevent unauthorized users.
The steps in which to set up the suggestions below vary by router. Refer to your router’s manual or contact your Internet provider for the configuration steps.
- Hide your SSID
When you try to join a network you search for nearby networks on your device and a list of names is presented to you. The names are known as SSID (which stands for Service Set Identifier). Go into your router’s built in administrative web page and set the router to not broadcast your router’s SSID. To join your network you will need to manually enter in the new SSID on your device.
For an extra layer of protection change the name of your SSID. Even though the SSID won’t be discoverable in any networks list it’s still a good idea to change the name. The SSID that is preset on routers is typically the name of the router manufacturer along with a number (for example NETGEAR1234). Hackers can try to guess the SSID just based on typical home router models but they won’t be able to guess the name if you’ve changed the SSID completely.
- Use WPA2 security
Routers have built in security, such as WPA2, that can be used. Using this security will mean anyone who knows your SSID will also need a password to join your network. When turning WPA2 on your router will offer to create a password for you. This password can be anywhere from 8 to 60 characters long. The longer the password, the more secure your router will be from unauthorized access.
- Change the URL to log into your router
What if someone learned your SSID and figured out your password? Their next step would be to log into your router and undo the security settings you put in to place. To do so they would log into your router through a web browser using a URL. Every router manufacturer has a default URL that can be used to access administrative functions. There are settings within your router’s configuration where you can change the URL to a different number sequence.
- Check what devices are on your network
When you are logged into your router there will be a section where you can view what devices are accessing your network. Each device broadcasts a unique identifier (known as a MAC address). Locate each of your devices MAC address and compare it to the list of devices accessing your network. If there is a device on the list that you are not familiar with you can ban it from accessing your router.