Your router is the main point of entry to your home. Well, at least for the internet.
If a hacker wants to gain entry to your network, then he or she needs to bypass your router. Bypassing a router isn’t as hard as some people think, and there aren’t many routers which are totally immune to hacking attacks.
Most computer users will never experience a dedicated hacking attack. To be honest, most people couldn’t care less about what’s on your computer.
Nevertheless, router security is extremely important. Today, I’m going to show you the top 5 most ridiculously easy ways to protect your router from hackers – even if you’re not a tech genius at all:
5) Change your username from ‘admin’
Unless you’re brain-dead, you’ve changed the password to your router. Unfortunately, some users only do that and that’s it.
Changing the router’s password is good, but changing both the password and the username is way better. Choose a random username and difficult password for maximum effectiveness.
The default password for routers, by the way, typically looks like this:
Password: password or [blank] or 1234
If you live in a crowded apartment building, then a fun hobby is to jump onto every Wi-Fi network you can see, type in 192.168.0.1 into the browser window, and enter the login credentials listed above. It’s 2014 and most people know to change their router settings, but you can always find an occasional clueless person.
4) Update the firmware
You update everything else on your PC, so why not update your router?
You don’t update the router because it’s a relatively difficult update process. However, it’s not as difficult as you might think. Updating router firmware involves downloading a .zip file and then uploading that .zip file to your router via the admin control panel.
Sounds easy, right? It is!
To find your router’s latest firmware update, go to your manufacturer’s website or type your router’s name + firmware update into Google.
This will update the software on your router, which can add the latest security standards and even improve router performance.
Firmware updates are always free to download. Today, some particularly wary users even download free, open source router firmwares like “Tomato”, “DD-WRT”, and “Open-WRT”, all of which improve router performance beyond company firmwares.
3) Remove personal information from the name of the network
If you scan for wireless networks around your neighborhood, you’re going to see lots of routers with names like “Thompson” or “Smith – Guest”.
That’s because people want to make their routers easily identifiable to both themselves and their guests.
When you remove personal information from your network, you prevent your network from being linked to your home address. You reduce the likelihood of anybody guessing a password.
Of course, if you hold any type of position of power and think you could be targeted for hacking attacks, then removing personal information from your home Wi-Fi network is particularly important.
2) Verify devices by MAC address
Most wireless networks verify devices based on a password. You connect to the network, type in a password, and gain access.
That’s not good enough security for some people.
The most secure way to provide wireless access to your network is to use MAC addresses. You can easily change this setting from your router’s control panel.
MAC addresses are the unique numbers given to every wireless electronic device. You manually type each MAC address into the wireless router’s control panel and that device is automatically granted access without needing a password.
This solution isn’t ideal for people who regularly have guests over that need Wi-Fi access. You have to manually type in each MAC address, and that can get time-consuming if you’re frequently adding and deleting users.
But if you’re looking for maximum security and an easy way to verify users, then MAC address verification is an effective tool.
1) Check who’s connecting to your network
You can check which devices are logged onto your router at any time by going to your router’s address at 192.168.0.1 (or, in some cases, 192.168.1.1).
Every browser UI is different, but there should be a “connected devices” subheading that tells you exactly which devices are logged on at any time.
Ideally, this will show your laptop, smartphone, desktop computer, and all other devices you currently use.
However, if you notice your network is sometimes responding slowly, then you may find unwanted guests on your router. If that’s the case, then you need to change your password immediately.