As the world continues to grow increasingly digitized, the interconnectedness present between devices gives rise to a web of devices that ultimately give rise to an ever-expanding IoT (Internet of Things), which contains every single device from a “smart coffee maker” to a self-driving car.
Although the monumental expansion that the IoT goes through on a daily basis, with a staggering number of devices being connected rapidly to the already massive network, bears witness to the technological developments that we’ve made; it is also a great cause for worry. With a massive increase in the number of devices connected on a single network, the entry points available to hackers also increase exponentially. If left unprotected, a cybercriminal may only need to break into an organization’s smart refrigerator to gain entry into their network and wreak as much damage as possible.
Having said that, however, one of the most significant devices in organizations and homes today is a Wi-Fi router, which acts as a sentry and ensures security by surveilling network traffic constantly. Simply put, a Wi-Fi router acts as a gatekeeper and controls access to your Wi-Fi network by making sure that no malicious agent gains entry into the network, along with checking that no sensitive information is being compromised.
As we’ve already mentioned above, the interconnected web of devices gives rise to multiple vulnerabilities within a network, which is why a router’s security must be taken seriously, both within organizations and homes, so as to uphold cybersecurity for the connected phones, laptops, tablets and more.
In an attempt to aid our readers in promoting cybersecurity within their houses and organizations, we’ve combined some of the most easily implementable tips that significantly boost router security, and consequently, the overall security of an organization. With that out of the way, we’d also like to clarify that these tips require you to access your router’s settings. Typically, a router’s settings can be accessed through an IP address, or by following the steps mentioned on the manual that came with the router.
#1- Changing the Passwords:
As the title of the article implies, one of the most vital steps that organizations can take to ensure that a Wi-Fi router is protected against multiple threats is to use WPA2 security to safe keep access to the router. Usually, the WPA2 security protocol requires you to set up a password that every new device needs to provide in order to connect to the network. Typically, the WPA2 security is enabled on a router, but if it isn’t, you could always manually configure it through your router’s settings.
Along with having the WPA2 security protocol enabled, it is also highly recommended that individuals go the extra mile for security and periodically change their Wi-Fi passwords. Although you’ll have to reconnect all of the devices to the network again, frequently changing the password ensures that any sketchy third-party actors lurking within the network are eliminated for good. Furthermore, to ensure that the devices connected to the network are all secure, you may also visit your router’s settings panel to obtain a list of all the connected devices on the network.
Although routinely changing the Wi-Fi password, implemented in tandem with the WPA2 security settings is a pretty fool-proof way of boosting router security, individuals who wish to take security a step further may also frequently change the password required to access the router’s settings. Not only does this ward off any unwanted malicious agents within the network it also but it also makes it impossible for any unauthorized person to alter the configurations of your router.
Another security measure, that lines up perfectly with the process of frequently altering passwords, is to simply use a VPN to access the internet, which may be used for accessing sports streams to your favorite tv shows- safely, without the prospect of being attacked by a cybercriminal.
#2- Ensure that Your Router’s Firmware is Up to Date:
As is the case with any stringent security regimen- one of the key aspects of amplifying Wi-Fi router security is to frequently update the low-level software that a router runs on, known as firmware. Simply put, a router’s firmware is responsible for everything that makes a Wi-Fi router, including fulfilling essential vital functions such as setting the security standard for a network, defining authorization criteria, etc.
As is the situation with any other software, it is highly important that you ensure that your router’s firmware is updated. Although most modern routers are updated automatically in the background, it is always worth ensuring that the firmware is up to date, since this implies that the router is equipped with the latest bug fixes, and security patches, which helps the router gatekeep the network against the most recently discovered vulnerabilities.
The process of updating your router’s firmware should be easy enough to fulfill, and although the procedure varies from router to router, it should be easily manually configurable from the router’s settings panel.
While picking out a new Wi-Fi router, however, take into account the auto-update function, since it eliminates the hassle of manual configuration. Furthermore, some modern routers also provide mobile notifications whenever the latest version of firmware is available.
#3- Disable “Dangerous” Router Features:
As we’ve already mentioned above, the modern altercations of the Wi-FI router provide users with many useful features, such as the option to auto-update the firmware. Amidst the many positives, however, there are a couple of lethal negatives, that could potentially cause irreparable damage to the connected devices on a network.
One such feature is when routers enable remote access to the router, from outside the organization or house. In no possible scenario, is the notion of remotely accessing your router worth putting your network through the security loophole that is accessing the router remotely inevitably entails. In order to uphold your network’s security, we’d recommend that you safely turn the remote access feature off.
Another feature that you’re better turning off is Universal Plug and Play, often abbreviated as UPnP. Although UPnP was designed to make it easier for third-party devices like smart televisions, and gaming consoles to connect to the web- it was discovered that the UPnP feature can be leveraged by malware programs to gain high-level access into your router’s security settings. With that being said, however, since many apps and devices rely on UPnP, we’d suggest that you keep the feature turned off for as long as possible unless it is absolutely necessary that you switch it on.
The last router feature that you’re better off disabling is Wi-Fi Protected Setup, which might come across as a surprise to some of our readers. Although WPS is well-intentioned, the fact that it allows for new devices to connect on a network through a PIN code or a simple button push- which makes it supremely easy for cybercriminals to break into the network and exploit it however they wish. Use the best wireless router to avoid the internet range issues.
#4- Utilize the Option of a Guest Network:
Since an increasing number of Wi-Fi routers feature a wide range of impressive features, it is highly advisable that you leverage the maximum benefit from those features. One such feature that individuals need to make good use of, is the option to broadcast a guest network.
As is made quite evident in the name, a guest network enables guests to access to a Wi-Fi network connection, without giving them the option to utilize the rest of the network, and consequently, all the devices connected on the network.
Leveraging a guest network creates further obstacles for hackers, who won’t be able to break into the network, even if they somehow, manage to get access to the guest network. Furthemore, while purchasing a Wi-Fi router, ensure that it has the option to hide the SSID of your main network, which further amplifies security on the network, and ensures that the main network is protected.
At the end of the article, we can only hope that we’ve done our part by educating our readers on some of the aptest tips to boost the security tips of their Wi-Fi routers. Having said that, we can only hope that our readers follow these tips, and start taking the security of their home and business networks more seriously!
This article has been authored by Rebecca, Enthusiastic Cybersecurity Journalist, A creative team leader, editor of privacycrypts.com. Follow @Twitter: https://twitter.com/rebecca_je