In a recent post by USA Today, they discussed things users need to know about router security in order to help protect themselves against getting hacked by cybercriminals. The IT Company believes that this information is so critical, we chose to highlight it in this week’s blog.

The vast majority of people are not familiar with the dangers of routers. The lack of router security and lack of knowledge on the topic is increasingly putting households at risk for being hacked. The increased danger of household routers is so important that the US-CERT has released an alert regarding “Russian state-supported hackers carrying out attacks against a large number of home routers in the U.S.”

USA Today suggested 5 tips for increasing your router’s security and therefore increasing the prevention of household networks, devices, and files being hacked. These include selecting the best encryption, setting up additional, separate networks, using parental controls, turning on the VPN and turning on, as well as testing  the firewall. Each of these 5 tips are ones that we at The IT Company feel are extremely crucial.

Unsure of what some of these tips mean or how to implement them?

The first step to all of this is checking that you have access to your router’s administration console. What is the router administration console? In simplest terms, the router administration console is where the router’s setting are controlled. Once you have accessed this, you can begin to implement the five tips USA Today has suggested. While you are accessing your router’s administrative console, if you are still using the default username and password, take the time to reset it to something complex and secure.

Let’s begin by investing some time into selecting the best encryption for your router. Inside of the router’s administration console, look for “wireless” or “security” in the menu. Every router is different, which can sometimes bring different menu layouts, if you are unable to figure out where to access your encryption options, give us a call! We’d love to help our customers ensure their security at home as well as the office.

By protecting your home network with a strong encryption, you increase the protection against unwanted connections. Unwanted connections can be using your network for illegal activity online, as it is extremely common for cybercriminals to use home networks to their advantage. Especially when these home Wi-Fi networks are unsecured.

In your router’s settings, there are different encryption options. The most commonly used Wi-Fi security is WPA2 encryption. The newest and most secure Wi-Fi security protocol is WPA3. Because of how new it is, not all routers are compatible with WPA3. The IT Company suggests using the strongest encryption possible. If WPA3 is not compatible with your router, we, as well as other resources, suggest using “WPA2-PSK AES.” By selecting a strong encryption, you take a step to protecting your home network.

Another great way to add an extra layer of security is by adding an additional separate network, or a “guest network.” By doing so, you prevent any guest users in your home from gaining access to devices or files that you have on your personal network. Often times people do not do so because they find it confusing or unnecessary. One way to avoid confusion, as well as add security to the guest network, is to have the additional network have a completely different name and password than your personal network.

As we always say at The IT Company, knowledge is key. Often times home networks are compromised by children who simply do not have the knowledge of network security. One way to ensure the safety of both your home network and your children is by turning on the free parental controls. For more information on how to protect your kids, read our past blog on Security Awareness Training for Kids.

Under the same router administration console, there is a menu option of “Parental Controls” or “Access Controls.” Here, you can find access to the filters that most routers have built in. You can choose specific sites and types of sites to disable access to. You can also apply a schedule as to when these sites are blocked verses accessible.

By enabling parental controls, you not only protect your network, but you protect your children from accessing or seeing inappropriate online sites.

VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is one of the most common ways to add security your network. VPNs hide your device’s IP address from websites and services that you may visit. It also encrypts web traffic, hiding your online activity from your internet provider. VPN services are often software based, but more commonly today, some routers are being configured with VPN capabilities on the router itself.

The final tip we would like to expand on is turning on and testing your firewall. Firewalls are a huge defense against online hackers. By having a firewall, you protect yourself. If a hacker gains knowledge of your router location or IP address, by having a firewall, it protects them from gaining further access to your system and your network.

To check if your router’s firewall is secure, USA Today suggests using an online tool to check.

At The IT Company, your security is important to us not only in the office, but at home too. We highly suggest implementing these tips for increased router security. If you have any questions or concerns about this, let us know so we can help increase your security and happiness!