How to Secure Your WiFi Network to Make Sure It Won't Get Hacked

How to Secure Your WiFi Network to Make Sure It Won't Get Hacked

A hacker can easily gain control over a computer through a weak WiFi network. The good news is it's not hard to secure your WiFi network.

The creation of WiFi made our lives so much easier.

Through a WiFi network, you can use the internet on your laptop, tablet, smartphone or any other wireless device, from anywhere in the house, without cluttering your place with a bunch of cables.

But this convenience also comes with a price. Unlike wired networks that can't be hacked without direct access to the cables, WiFi networks can be hacked easier than you might think. And there are multiple reasons for one to hack your WiFi network.

Learning how to secure WiFi networks is essential for any internet user because, let's be real, no one will go back to the cables cluttering while WiFi is an option.


Why you should secure your WiFi network

When your WiFi connection is not secured, or it is poorly secured, it's easy for someone to get access to your network. Some reasons why one would want to jump into your network may seem innocent, while some put your private data at risk. But even with the best scenarios, you'll still have something to lose.

Someone may take advantage of your subscription

One common reason why people hack WiFi networks is to benefit from someone else's internet connection. It can be either because they want to avoid paying for an internet subscription themselves, or because they don't own a WiFi router and find it more convinient to use yours.

It's important to secure your WiFi network so you prevent your neighbors from taking advantage of your internet connection.

Someone using your WiFi network might not sound like such a big deal, but it will directly affect you.

  • If you have an internet subscription where you pay for the number of bytes used, your bill will skyrocket if someone else is using the network, too.
  • The more people are using a WiFi network, the slower the internet speed.

Your private security is at risk

If someone using your WiFi network to get free access to the internet is not a great enough reason for you to be concerned about your WiFi security, you should know that your private files are also in danger when your WiFi gets cracked.

Those who are targeting WiFi networks for malicious actions are often referred to as hackers. The goal of a hacker is to get access to your private information such as sensitive files, username and password, and even your bank account information.

A hacker with access to your WiFi network can:

  • Get access to all the devices connected to the network.
  • Track your activity.
  • Install malware on your device that will log all the keystrokes, allowing the hacker to find out all your login information and steal your credit card details.
  • Use your device to send malware to others (most likely through automated emails). If legal action is taken against the malware attack, the law enforcement will show up on your doorstep and there will be no evidence to convict the real felon.

A hacker cracking your WiFi network to steal your private information is less common in apartment buildings. It's riskier for hackers to attack the people they see on a regular basis so they prefer to do these kinds of attacks in public places (coffee shops, venues). Still, there's no guarantee that no hacker will step foot into your building only for a short amount of time (visitors, Airbnb guests) in which he'll take advantage of weak WiFi networks.

So let's now go over how to secure a wireless network to prevent any uninvited folks from taking control of your devices.


Learn how to change the router settings

The first step you wanna take so you secure your WiFi network connection is to learn how to open the router settings page.

Access the page - You can usually go to the router settings page by typing "192.168.0.1" or "192.168.1.1" in your web browser. Another way is to access a dedicated link that you will find on the back of your router. To access the router settings page you don't need internet access, but your laptop or computer must be connected to the router through WiFi or cable.

Provide the login credentials - Once you access the settings page, you'll be asked to provide the login credentials. The default username and password are usually printed on the back of the router.

If the login credentials have been changed and you don't remember them, you can reset the router to the factory settings. To do so, find the reset button on the back of the router and press and hold it for 5 seconds. The router will restore itself to the default settings.

This technique works for most of the routers, but each one is different. If this is not working for the router you have, you can find directions on how to access the settings page in the router's user manual. If you can't find the physical manual, you'll definitely find it on Google.


Get rid of the default router password

Now that you are on the router's settings page, it's time to strengthen the WiFi network. The first thing you want to do is change the router's default password.

As you've seen above, the default login credentials to access the router are written on the router itself. And they are the same for each user, usually something like username: admin/password: admin. This means that if someone knows what router brand you have, a Google search is enough to find what the default credentials are.

To prevent anyone from accessing your router's settings page, access the Administration settings and change the password.


Change the network name

You'll often find the wireless network name referred to as the SSID. The default SSID is usually the brand name of the router.

Even if changing the network name won't directly strenghten the network, you want to do it for more reasons.

First, if there are more routers in your building from the same manufacturer, it will be quite confusing when you try to connect to your own WiFi network. Creating your unique name will make sure you're always connecting to the right network.

Secondly, by changing the name, the brand of your router won't be visible so no one will be able to target your WiFi network based on the router brand you have.

Guidelines for the network name

Do not use any personal information such as your address

  • Avoid using your name
  • If you set up a WiFi network connection for an office or company, it's best to avoid using the brand name. Hackers often target WiFi networks of companies because they know there's much for them to gain.
  • Try a name that will scare people away. Police surveillance, Service Unavailable. People won't completely buy it, but they will be rather safe than sorry.

You also have the option to disable the SSID broadcast. This will make the network name invisible and when someone wants to connect to the network, they'll need to type the name of the network along with the password. This may seem like a great way to secure your WiFi network, but your WiFi performance will be affected. Also, there are free tools online that will allow people to find the SSID even if it is invisible.


The right WiFi network encryption

A weak WiFi encryption is easy to hack into even with free tools that you find online.

There are three main types of WiFi encryption:

  • WEP - Wired Equivalent Privacy
  • WPA - WiFi Protected Access
  • WPA2 - WiFi Protected Access 2

WEP is the basic type of encryption and it's compatible with most devices, even with older ones. It is also the least secure one and you should avoid using it unless you have devices that don't support WPA2. The WPA2 is the most secure type of encryption but its disadvantage is that it doesn't work older hardware.

You can enable the encryption of your WiFi network from the router's settings page. Once you chose the type of encryption, it's time to create a strong password to properly secure the wireless network.

Guidelines for creating a strong password

Don't use your personal information such as your name or birthday.

  • The password should be impossible to guess, so avoid using your pets names.
  • Combine letters, numbers and special characters.
  • Instead of using a single word, use a phrase.

The tools for cracking WiFi passwords work by testing possible combinations. So the more complex the password, the harder it is to crack.

Don't give the password to just anyone

It's understandable to give your WiFi password to your friends and relatives that come to visit. You should b able to trust your friends not to use your WiFi network maliciously. But you should be cautious when it comes to other people that may get inside your house such as plumbers, salespeople or anybody that came to perform a service. If they ask for your WiFi password, you shouldn't give it to them. If they need the internet to do their job, their employee should've provided them with a data plan.

Change your password regularly

You should keep on changing your WiFi password on a regular basis yo keep your WiFi network secure. This may seem annoying because you have to always remember different passwords but in reality, it's quite an easy process. You probably have your devices set up to connect automatically to your WiFi network, so you'll only need to type the password once. To keep track of your passwords, you can use a password manager tool.


WiFi hacking goes both ways

As you've seen in this post, securing your WiFi connection is important to prevent someone from piggybacking your connection or getting access to your computer. But when it comes to WiFi, you should always be really careful what WiFi networks you're connecting to.

Nowadays, there's free WiFi everywhere - in coffee shops, hotels, buses, trains. Those public WiFi networks are not secure.

Because they are heavily used, public, and not password protected (or protected by a password that's public anyway), they are really easy to break into by hackers with a bit of knowledge and the right tools.

Actually, public WiFi networks are the favorite places for hackers to steal private information or credit card information. Because the places are crowded and surrounded by people who come and go, there is almost impossible to find the hacker in case of an attack.

Never use public WiFi networks without securing your device first. Especially to log in to your accounts, read your emails, or to check your bank account.

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