Secure Your Home Wireless Network

When managing your own wireless connections at home, remember that the qualities that make the internet accessible to you also make it accessible to everyone else. Be smart and secure your network so that only those you allow can access it.

There are two basic steps to securing your home network: (1) keep your devices up to date and (2) secure your wireless router. For specific instructions, see the documentation from your internet service provider or the manufacturer of your device.

  1. Update all your Internet-enabled devices with the latest operating systems, web browsers, and security software. This includes any mobile devices that access your wireless network, such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices like an Internet-enabled thermostat, lights, refrigerator, and so on. Security software includes anti-virus or anti-malware software. Check your devices for updates regularly and keep them up-to-date.
  2. Secure your wireless router. Your WiFi network is created by connecting an internet access point – such as a cable or DSL modem – to a wireless router. The default settings on your wireless router, such as a generic password, can be compromised. Here are the ways to secure a wireless router (if necessary, refer to the detailed instructions that accompany your router):
  • Change the name of your wireless network. The default name or ID broadcast by your router is assigned by the manufacturer. Change it to a name that is unique to you and does not reveal information about the model or manufacturer.
  • Change the preset password for your router. Leaving a default password unchanged makes it much easier for unauthorized people to access your network. Choose a strong password and store it in a safe location. You probably won’t need to use this password unless you are fixing a problem with your network or changing router settings.
  • Encrypt WiFi traffic. When choosing your router’s level of security, opt for Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) if available, or Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA). These levels are more secure than the Wireless Equivalent Privacy (WEP) option.
  • Disable remote administration. It is unlikely you will need to access your router settings from a remote location or network.
  • Position the router securely and limit the range of access. Do not place your router in a location where anyone can plug in a network cable to gain access. Try to position it where the wireless signal only reaches the locations where you want access.
  • Use a firewall. A firewall is a network security system that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing traffic based on predetermined security rules. It establishes a barrier between your internal network and the outside Internet. Your operating system and/or security software likely comes with a pre-installed firewall. Make sure it is turned on.