A lag-free experience supplementing your gameplay with 60+ FPS in 4K can be achieved with the right router. However, is your router secure?
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, more companies are making their routers easy to navigate and configure. Most people just give their network a quirky name and change the password when setting it up. That is only going to protect you from pesky neighbors using your Wi-Fi, and they are not the only threat you face.
So, the big question is, how to secure your Wi-Fi router? Let’s find out what steps you can take.
How to Open Router Settings?
Your router should have a web-based app to be able to configure its settings similar to those available in mesh Wi-Fi networks. Some routers have web apps accessible via your IP address in the search bar.
- On Windows, Win+R and then typing ‘cmd’ should open the command prompt. Run the ‘ipconfig’ command to find out your default IP Address.
- For a Mac, open System Preference, then Network and click on Advanced in the bottom corner. The TCP/IP option can help you find your router’s IP address.
- On Linux, use the ‘ip addr show’ command to display all network interfaces and associated IP addresses.
To get started, you need to enter your IP address in the address bar and log in to your router. This is also where most of your network settings will be found.
Log in with the details provided in the user manual, and if you have somehow misplaced it, try some default names and passwords like admin as username and password. You can also lookup the exact model on the internet and see what the company uses by default.
Once you log in, change the name but make sure it is not something that can be directly associated with you such as your last name.
Next, change the password, try to use uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters. The more types and number of characters in a password, the harder it will be to execute a brute-force attack on it, try to include at least 8 characters.
Routers typically offer different encryption types, such as WEP, WPA, and WPA2.
WEP is the oldest type and is, therefore, the easiest to crack. It is based on radio waves and does not have any variation in encryption keys. If you have older devices such as an old console, then they might not be able to connect to your router.
WPA does not have the issues determined in WEP, but most devices made after 2000 will have this. Encryption keys are shuffled but other than the software a lot of the hardware has remained the same as its predecessor.
WPA2 is the most recent and most secure form currently available. Always select WPA2 if available, as this makes sure your emails and correspondence are 100% secure. It allows the use of a protocol that wasn’t used before. This protocol is the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol or TKIP for short.
The most recent model will also allow AES, the Advanced Encryption Standard, which is used by governments and large organizations for more privacy. You can implement this on top of WPA2 for maximum security, and there will most likely be a check box available for this. Don’t worry if you do not see this option. There are more tips on how to secure your Wi-Fi router.
Your firmware needs to be updated, and if you are in luck, your manufacturer will already have a button in place to let you automate updates. Others may require you to log in and click a button to install updates.
Some manufacturers may ask you to update manually. It means you need to get the latest firmware update files or patches from their website. For example, if you have a TP-Link Archer, then here is how to update your firmware for a secure router. Other routers have a similar process.
The DNS you deserve
A better DNS can ensure your connection with your ISP does not allow them to take advantage of it. While a paid DNS might be a better bet but a good free alternative is Google DNS. It does, however, make logs between 24 to 48 hours for diagnostic purposes that are all deleted after 2 weeks except for a random sample. It is meant for experienced users. You can also look at OpenDNS or even use their tutorials to configure Google’s DNS by changing the nameservers.
Services and Scheduling
Disable services such as remote access to the router when you are not connected to it. Try to avoid internet-connected devices from sources that are not trusted, such as smart coffee makers. You may use these if needed, but these can also open you to more exploits and attacks.
Another clever trick is to set up a schedule to turn off your router when it is not in use, for example, when you are at work. It may be difficult if you have a home monitoring system that relies on Wi-Fi. The easiest solution to that is to set up a guest network for your coffee maker and your home monitoring system. That way you can keep an eye on what your pet gets up to without you while keeping your router safe.
You can find MAC addresses for your devices and use them to set up a whitelist of devices that can connect to your devices. It will keep your neighbors and hackers off of your router. Every time you get a new device, you just have to add its MAC address. Be careful though, as MAC addresses are easy to spoof. The hacker will need your MAC address to spoof it, so it might be worth a try.
Some Additional Tips
A VPN is a great way to add an extra layer of security for online anonymity. It masks your IP address, while it used to be untraceable, your IP can now be found, even after tunneling via a VPN. Rest assured, this can only be done by hackers with some heavy computing power, and with the research towards Quantum Encryption this is likely to become impossible soon.
Firewall monitoring is an important feature that is found in most routers, but you should still ensure its presence. Couple this with a proven anti-virus/malware scanner, you’ll be a lot more protected by any threats.