For most non-technical people, setting up a wireless router involves plugging it in and walking away. However a survey by Broadband Genie suggests this may be leaving many of us open to security breaches and hacking. Broadband hardware with weak default passwords running outdated software could be jeopardising WiFi router security for many.
Unwittingly risky behaviour
2,205 people were asked if they had ever made basic configuration changes to secure their wireless router.
Over half (51%) had never touched it!
Of those who had been brave enough to dive in:
- 31% changed the WiFi password
- 30% checked to see what devices were connected to their network
- 18% changed the router’s admin password
- only 14% had updated the firmware
Why does wireless router security matter?
Your WiFi router is the internet’s gateway into your home. As with physical security measures like door locks and alarm systems, it needs to be protected from unauthorised access.
The explosion of wireless ‘Internet of Things’ devices is providing more and more opportunities for criminals. This disturbing example of a baby monitor hack from a few years ago is just the tip of the iceberg. With the convenience and enjoyment of IoT devices, also comes the potential pain of dangerous security weaknesses.
In addition, high profile attacks, including a well-publicised one against TalkTalk users, demonstrate just how vulnerable these devices are. Wireless router security is now more crucial than ever.
So what are the basic steps we should all be taking to ensure our wireless router is secure?
Time to take action: five WiFi router security must-do’s
- Change the admin password: The admin login is used to access all of the router’s important settings. Out of the box, most routers use insecure default passwords such as “admin” or “password”. Not too hard to guess and the first port of call for hackers and information thieves. The first step to WiFi router security is therefore choosing a strong password. Make it long and random for the best security. You could use a password manager utility to help.
- Block remote access: Many wireless routers these days feature remote administrator access. This allows you to change the router settings over the internet. Because most users would never need to use this functionality it is best to disable it to prevent misuse.
- Use a guest network: For convenience, most people will share WiFi passwords with visitors (family, friends, even tradespeople). You can improve your WiFi router security by using the guest network feature (if you router provides it) for visitors to use. This means they can access the internet, but can’t access shared devices on your network such as printers and network drives.
- Choose your own network name: The SSID (network name) of a wireless router often uses the make and model of the device. This can result in an attacker being able to target you with known weaknesses and default passwords. Picking a different name will make things a bit harder for them.
- Keep the firmware up to date: Firmware updates can fix security weaknesses, so it’s important to install the latest version as soon as it’s available. Bear in mind though that a botched firmware installation could break your router. It is therefore critical that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Need some help with your WiFi?
WiFiGuys provide WiFi help, advice and wireless network solutions to homes and businesses in the Bath and Bristol area. If you’re concerned about your WiFi security or have any other issues with your wireless network contact us today to talk to your local specialist.