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7 Steps To Harden Your Home Router

A secure router is an important component of a safer network setup. Security is a growing concern as people and businesses want to make sure their personal information and data are safe. As hackers may infect your computer with viruses and malware, perpetrate identity theft, and steal your personal data.

Your router and all aspects of your home Wi-Fi network configuration have a great impact. Here’s a guide to the threats that are out there, plus a look at the security features available and practices you can undertake to harden your online threat-prevention practices.

What is a Home Router?

Your router is the connecting link between your devices and the internet provided by your internet service provider. A few facts to keep in mind:

  • When you connect on your phone, tablet, or computer, you need a device that communicates with the network.
  • Routers also work with printers, cooling and heating systems, security systems, and lots of other smart devices in today’s increasingly connected world.
  • The main function of wireless routers (or wired ones) is to manage traffic that moves along these networks.
  • It regulates important issues such as file transfer speeds.

This type of device handles high volumes of data, some of it personal and valuable. Hackers and cybercriminals often target residential and corporate networks to steal data and plant viruses or malware, for example. Secure routers are thus a central aspect of protecting your computers and data. Several security protocols can help you improve security on your Wi-Fi system.

Understanding the Security Threats

Much of the publicity about online security centers on businesses being targeted by hackers, plus the quality of service those organizations provide in keeping their customers’ and partners’ data safe. Cybersecurity is a serious issue, but hackers are also increasingly targeting home networks. Even if you think your devices aren’t worth hacking, you probably have lots of personal and financial information that could be at risk.

  • Viruses and Malware

Harmful files on your computer can cause all kinds of problems. Viruses and malware can erase your files, cause damage to your software, and give hackers a place to store illegal files. At best, they are a nuisance. At worst, they can cause you legal problems.

  • Identity Theft

Identity theft is a nightmare scenario in which someone literally steals your identity, using your name, Social Security number, credit card information, and other data. They may use this information to buy items or to commit crimes.

  • Hacking of Smart Items

Smart homes and the Internet of Things (IoT) has made life more convenient in many ways. At the same time, it’s created many new risks every time you open a web browser or access guest networks. Using a smart temperature control system, entertainment center, and other connected items leaves you open to potential attacks.

  • Targeted Scams

Cybercriminals can steal your data and then use the information against you. For example, they can pose as long-lost relatives or friends, or family members facing an emergency. They can look at your online profiles to determine what kind of offers or scams you’re most likely to fall for, then use that data to do their worst.

There are plenty of other factors to keep in mind, too, including that ethernet ports, USB ports, and additional physical computer components also create risks. Taking steps like only purchasing the best secure routers, enabling parental controls if children live in your home, being careful with open source codes, and enacting other controls will make a huge difference as well.

Router on a desk

7 Tips to Secure Your Wi-Fi and Router

There are many ways to improve online security, such as using secure passwords, updating your software regularly, and avoiding phishing scams, among other tactics and features. Your home router is one of the biggest risks, however, which is why it’s so important to implement effective home network security.

Here are some tips that will make you more secure.

1. Use a secure login.

You received a default username and password when your Wi-Fi was set up. Many people never change this, and hackers can access databases that contain default passwords. Make sure you change the login info, using a password that’s difficult to guess.

2. Change the SSID.

Service set identifier (SSID) is the number that identifies your internet network. Routers often have a default SSID that contains the brand name, such as ASUS. Changing this to something unique is another essential step for secure routers.

3. User secure encryption.

Secure routers must be encrypted. There are several types of encryption, and you must choose the right kind. The strongest type of encryption is the WPA2 enterprise, while WEP is the weakest and won’t provide adequate network security. It’s not difficult to secure your router, as you can enable encryption on it from its settings. Another key tip is to avoid tapping into a guest network from your devices as such connections are not always encrypted.

4. Consider using Mu Mimo.

Mu Mimo is Wi-Fi technology that allows multiple devices to communicate, which also enables better file transfer performance. Mu Mimo isn’t a security feature in itself, but having your network run faster and more efficiently can improve security. You probably don’t need it if you only have a few connected items, but it’s recommended for smart homes and anyone who uses many.

5. Keep router software up to date.

Whether you use Netgear Nighthawk, a product from ASUS, or any other type of Wi-Fi router, it’s important to keep the firmware up to date. This is true no matter which style you are using, too, including tri-band, trend micro, and dual band routers. In addition to bolstering your wireless network, this should maximize file transfer speeds and other performance factors.

6. Use a Firewall

Another feature of secure routers is that they’re protected by a firewall. A firewall is one of the first lines of defense against threats. This is a feature you can enable by going to your router’s configuration settings, and can prevent some of the issues that come from lax controls.

7. Disable WPS

Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) is a function that makes it easier to add connected items to Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, it’s also a risk as it’s relatively easy for hackers to access WPS. You can disable WPS by going to your router settings and unchecking this feature.

Checklist of Simple Security Tips

The above guidelines will keep the router in your house and the Wi-Fi it’s connected to more secure. The following are some additional simple steps you can take to keep you even safer.

1. Be careful of old hard drives.

You can make yourself safer by keeping track of the data on your devices and cleaning them regularly. This is the digital equivalent of shredding old documents. If you have old hard drives containing data, always delete the data before discarding the drives. Keep in mind that moving things to the recycle bin does not permanently remove them, though. You’ll want to use a digital file shredder to wipe those items for good.

2. Change passwords regularly.

Never use passwords associated with family members, birthdates, pets, sports teams, or anything else easily guessed.

3. Shut off your network when it’s not in use.

It’s always easier to access a system when it’s turned on. If no one is in the house all day and you don’t need internet access there, shut the network off. Use parental controls to keep your children safe when you cannot monitor their activities.

4. Be mindful of the physical location of your wireless router.

The closer your router is to a window or a wall that borders with a neighbor, the easier it is to hack. It’s best to keep it somewhere in the middle of the house. This is easier when you have more square feet, but should be a consideration no matter the size of the space.

5. Complete all necessary updates.

That includes firmware updates for your smart Wi-Fi router, as well as software updates that might help reduce risks that come from your internet connection. This is one of the best ways to improve router security and activities completed from your IP address.

The world is an increasingly connected space, and threats will exist even if you take all these steps to keep your WiFi router secure. One way to mitigate a potential security risk is to keep bad actors accessing your digital files by removing them from the places they might try to hack.

Digital File Shredding: One of the Top Digital Security Features Around

Only purchasing the best secure routers is just one step of a high-quality network, and simply deleting your files doesn’t completely remove them from your computer items. Shred Cube has technology that lets you permanently remove files with a digital file shredder, guaranteeing they’ll never be recovered. Contact us today to speak with an expert about any secure router questions you might have and to learn more about how digital file shredding can help.

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