Unlike a wired interface - which requires an ethernet cable to send a network authentication request from a device to a modem to access a wired network - a Wi-Fi interface sends network authentication request signals through the air as radio waves.
When connecting your device (laptop, desktop, smart phone, tablet, etc.) to a wireless modem, Wi-Fi requires you to authenticate before accessing an available Wi-Fi network.
Any device within broadcast range of the modem can authenticate, get a signal and connect to a Wi-Fi network with the right credentials. This makes Wi-Fi networks less secure than wired networks, but there are steps that can greatly increase the security of the Wi-Fi network and lower the probability of a security breach.
Here are seven recommendations that will instantly improve your home Wi-Fi network security:
- Modems come with a default SSID username and password required for setup. The username and password are not unique to you and are used for all hardware built and shipped by the same manufacturer. Hackers know this. Change the default SSID username and password on your modem, and make sure the password is at least 12 characters long (the longer the better). There are enough people with weak passwords that a hacker won’t spend more than a few minutes before moving on to the next target.
- Different authentication protocols were created to provide users secure access to networks. The recommended authentication protocol widely available today is WPA2. If you are using WEP or WPA for authentication, change to WPA2. I suggest you buy a new modem if yours doesn’t have WPA2.
- Update the modem’s software if you don't have a modem supplied by your ISP (internet service provider). By updating the software there will be less vulnerabilities and chances for a hacker to gain access to your network. To find the most recent updates for your modem, go to the 'Downloads' section on the website of the manufacturer. If you disable the default wireless administration connection it will block wireless hacking into the router. If you do have a modem from your ISP they automatically do the updates for you.
- Remote login needs to be disabled on your modem. This will block a brute force attack on your network.
- Reduce the broadcast range of your modem. A quick way to do this is to disable the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi frequency, and only use 5GHz. If you still want to use the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi frequency you should buy shorter antennas for your modem, as shorter antennas = shorter broadcast range.
- Hide your Wi-Fi network’s name (SSID). If you set the Wi-Fi name to 'hidden' then it won’t automatically be picked up if someone is in broadcast range. This will not stop someone if they manually look for your Wi-Fi network name, but the chances of that happening are slim for your home network.
- Have your own personal devices for your network instead of using an internet providers devices. Your own devices will have the latest technology, give you better control and setup of your network, and save you money.
These seven suggestions will get you started towards better wireless security!