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Is Your WiFi Network Safe From Hackers?

WiFi is awesome and it's plentiful! Almost every household is using a wireless router to connect all of their laptops, smartphones, and tablets to their super fast cable or DSL Internet connection. More and more businesses are starting to add WiFi to their stores, making it easier to get online wherever you are without using as much cellphone data. However, most WiFi routers when not set up properly can make your WiFi network a treasure trove for hackers to pull data out of your computer and allow them to make money off of it. You may already have taken steps to protect yourself but there may be steps you don't know about or haven't thought about. In this blog post, you will learn how to take the security of your WiFi router to the next level.

Basic WiFi Security

Every WiFi router has a different interface with a different wording for each setting but they pretty much all have the same settings that need to be set and tweaked to keep your network safe. For most homes and businesses, you have probably already learned and tweaked the settings for your router. However, some people haven't done this either because they don't know how or didn't think about it. For a lot of people, you would think you can just plug in a router and it just works. It does, but your network is NOT secure. Let's recap some of the things you should have done already to keep things secure:

  • Set A Secure WiFi Password
    • Believe it or not, a long memorable phrase with spaces is more secure than just random letters and numbers. It turns out, it's the length of the password that matters the most. I'll write a blog post that talks more about secure passwords in the near future. This password will ensure unwanted users can't get on your network and do whatever they please.
  • Change The SSID (Router Name)
    • The SSID is simply the name of your WiFi network that is seen when you go to connect a device to it. The default name is usually the brand name of the router which is bad because it makes it easier for a hacker to look up the information needed to break into your network. Change it to something recognizable but avoid using personal information such as a phone number or family name. Remember, everyone who passes by your building will see this. If you are a business owner, your business name is fine.
  • Upgrade Your Router Firmware
    • Not only will doing this make your connections smoother and faster but it may also patch some serious security flaws that your router might have out of the box.
  • Set A Secure Router Admin Password
    • Most people skip this step. Usually the router has a default username and password on it when you go to change it's settings that is as simple as could be. If a hacker were to be able to identify your router's model, they could figure out how to get on your network and hack it with ease. Same rules apply for the WiFi Password, make sure it's long and that you can remember it. If you can't remember it, write it down and keep it in a safe place. If you get locked out, you can always factory reset the router but you'll have to do all the setup over again.

If you haven't done these things, it would be a good idea to do so. Since there are so many models of routers I can't tell you via a blog post how exactly to change these settings as the instructions vary. However, you can either read the manual that came with your router or do a search on Google for your router's manual. If you are in doubt about making any setting change, please book an appointment with me. If you try to make the changes yourself and you don't know what you are doing, you could lose your ability to get online or damage your router. Now with that in mind, let's look at the uncommon settings changes that you'll want to make ASAP.

Turn Off uPNP

 The Instant UPnP Exposure Test at GRC.com

The Instant UPnP Exposure Test at GRC.com

Universal Plug and Play or uPNP is a feature on most routers that is turned on by default. It allows devices like Game Consoles, Media Servers, and Computers to automatically configure itself to talk to devices outside of your local network and allow them to talk to your devices. Basically it lowers your wireless router's defences so that certain device functions can be used. The problem is that most home and business users don't require the use of this feature and and there is a big security risk for using it even if you think you need it. It turns out if a hacker can find out what your public IP address is (that's kind of like your house's phone number, only for the Internet), they can exploit this uPNP function and gain remote access to your WiFi network. When this happens, they can do pretty much whatever they want to your devices that you haven't already disabled access to. This is dangerous and must be disabled. Your wireless router should have a setting for this and all you have to do is uncheck the box that enables it. If you want to find out if your router has uPNP turned on quickly, you can run the ShieldsUp! Exposure test to see if you are vulnerable. Don't worry, you won't get hacked by this, the website will just tell you if you are hackable or not. This website is a reputable tool created by security expert Steve Gibson. I highly trust his insights on data and computer security and his software is just awesome. Just follow the link below to the site and click the proceed button, then click uPNP Exposure Test. If you are vulnerable, you can either find the setting in your router or call me and I can fix it remotely for you.

Remember once again, if you are not sure how to fix something contact a professional like myself to help. It is much less expensive to get your issue fixed by a professional than to try to fix it yourself, make the problem worse and have a professional fix all of those issues. I hope this article got you thinking about keeping your network and computers secure. Click the first button below to go to the exposure test and if you need help click the second button below to book a consulting appointment. Safe and Happy Surfing everyone!