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How can I protect my Wi-Fi at home?

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A basic home wireless network involves connecting an internet access point, such as a cable from your internet service provider, to a router (wireless - Wi-Fi) to allow multiple devices to connect to the network very quickly.

What about crooks who want to create havoc in your life? Your Wi-Fi router can be their front door!
In many cases, once a wireless router has been installed, it is given a dedicated place in our house and we forget about it. As long as all our devices installed and connected via the Wi-Fi network can access the internet, that's all that matters, right? Wrong!

The age of data breaches, ransomware and other online threats

Keep in mind the fact that the Internet router is one of the most important devices in your home: it is the gateway to your Internet access and could be the target of cybercriminals wanting to sneak into your devices and access your system.
The security of your home network is extremely important, so take all the necessary security measures without delay to strengthen the security of your home Wi-Fi. How can you do this?

Tip 1: Change the default name of your home Wi-Fi network

The first thing to do is change the name of the Wi-Fi network, also known as SSID (Service Set Identifier).
By changing the default name of your Wi-Fi, a person with malicious intentions will find it harder to discover what type of router you have. If, on the other hand, they know the name of the router manufacturer, they will know the vulnerabilities of this model and then try to exploit them. It's not very complicated if you know that telecom operators make user manuals available online.
And avoid calling your home network "Michel Caron's Wi-Fi"; it's not really a good idea to identify yourself among the three or four other Wi-Fi networks nearby... Especially since disclosing too much personal information in the name of a wireless network can expose you to identity theft. Instead, let your creative freedom take over when choosing your network name!

Tip 2. Set a strong and unique password to secure your wireless network

The wireless network provided must be password protected (also called Key PassPhrase).


   (source: https://www.dummies.com/consumer-electronics/smartphones/droid/how-to-access-wi-fi-on-an-android-phone/)

A good wireless password should be at least 20 characters long and include numbers, letters and various symbols. And don't share it, of course!

Tip 3. Increase Wi-Fi security by enabling network encryption

Wireless networks are equipped with several encryption languages, such as WEP, WPA or WPA2.
WPA2/WPA2 AES are the best choices.

Tip 4. Switch off the wireless home network during extended absences

Remember this when the lockdown restrictions are lifted: to secure your home network, turn off the Wi-Fi during prolonged periods of non-use!

Tip 5. Where is the router in your home?

The location of the Wi-Fi router in the house can also have an impact on your security.
Place the wireless router as close to the middle of your house as possible. Why? First of all, it will provide all the rooms in your house with equal access to the internet. Secondly, the range of your wireless signal will not be too great outside your home, where it can be easily intercepted by a person with malicious intentions. For this reason, it is also not recommended that you place your wireless router near a window, as nothing can block the signal from the house.

Tip 6. Change the modem password

Default accesses to the modem are provided when the modem is installed. They can usually be found on a sticker stuck to the modem.
Warning: this password is different from the password that secures the wireless network provided.
Change this password! This is what happens at Proximus (FR/NL), for example.

Tip 7. Disable remote access

Most routers allow access to their interface only from a connected device. However, some of them allow access even from remote systems.
Once remote access is disabled, a person with malicious intentions will not be able to access the router's privacy settings from a device that is not connected to the wireless network.
To make this change, go to one of your provider's management consoles and search for "Remote Access" or "Remote Administration".

Tip 8. Always keep the router software up to date

Software is a vital part of your wireless network security. Like any other software, the wireless router's firmware contains flaws that can become major vulnerabilities and be exploited by a hacker.
Unfortunately, many wireless routers do not include the ability to automatically update their software, forcing us to do it manually. This setting must be activated even for Wi-Fi routers that can perform an automatic update.
So update the software: this is essential to prevent a cybercriminal from exploiting these vulnerabilities.

Tip 9. A firewall to secure the Wi-Fi network

Most good wireless routers have a built-in firewall that should protect the network from a possible computer attack.
This information is shown on the router's admin interface. Check its settings on the router's management console.

Tip 10. Enhance protection for the devices most frequently connected to your home network

This advice is particularly important due to the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT): even if the protection of the router and the home network is improved, you also need to check whether there are any security flaws in the equipment that connects to the network.
Here are our recommendations:

  • always update your devices with the latest software;
  • activate and configure the security settings for each device;
  • always apply the latest security patches to ensure that no security vulnerabilities can be found by a person with malicious intentions;
  • check which devices connect most often to the home network and make sure they are equipped with antivirus and/or anti-malware security software.

In conclusion

Securing your home network should be a top priority if you want to keep your data secure. Everything is at your fingertips via your router's management console.
Need more information? Contact your router provider/telecom operator. Alternatively, https://modemly.com/ allows you to enter your router model to find basic security instructions.

This article is part of an information security awareness programme of the BRIC. Other useful reminders and recommendations will follow on a regular basis.