There is no doubt that wireless Internet has revolutionised the modern world, simultaneously connecting and mobilising people and their devices. Yet its constant presence in our lives has literally lulled us into a false sense of security, only to be jolted by recent news stories of contagious Wi-Fi viruses that spread like colds.
Granted, viruses such as Chameleon have in fact been developed by researchers with the sole intention of proving a point whilst working out better ways to protect our Wi-Fi networks. They demonstrate the importance of taking our home Internet security more seriously, especially as we connect multiple devices – often loaded with personal data and password histories.
Change Default Passwords and Usernames
The single most important thing you should do when setting up a new router is change the default passwords and usernames. What may seem like a random combination of numbers and letters is in fact an incredibly simple code known to most hackers. You can change your login details on the setup pages when installing your router. Remember to include numbers as well as letters in upper and lowercase.
Turn on WPA/WEP Encryption
All Wi-Fi equipment is built to support encryption of some kind. What this technology does is scramble messages sent over networks so that humans cannot easily read them. In order for encryption to work, all devices connected to a single network must share identical encryption settings. You therefore need to select the strongest type of encryption compatible with your devices.
Firewalls are veterans of Internet security and yet many people neglect their purpose of protecting computers from potential outside threats. Whilst modern routers have built-in firewall capabilities, they can still be disabled so ensure that yours is switched on. Likewise, take the time to check your computers’ firewall settings and ensure they are working properly. It is highly recommended that you maximise security by also installing personal firewall software on each computer connected to the router.
Assign Static IP Addresses
Though slightly more technical, opting for a static IP address instead of a dynamic one can substantially improve your home Internet security. To do this you will need to turn off Dynamic Host Configuration Pool (DHCP) on the router or access point and then set a fixed IP range. Configure each connected device to match. A private IP address range will prevent computers from being directly reached from the Internet.
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