With the number of devices people own these days, setting up a secure home network is crucial. With cybercrime and hacking incidents on the rise, it is imperative that our home networks are as secure as they are well connected.
So, if you don’t want a neighbor stealing your Wi-Fi or a hacker infiltrating your home network, then read on. We will teach you everything you need to set up a secure home network.
Wired or Wireless?
Before setting up your home network, the first thing to consider is whether you want a “wired” or a “wireless” network. With most homes and offices using Wi-Fi for easy connectivity, a wired connection isn’t always an option. However, some people still prefer a wired network as it offers greater stability since all your network devices are connected directly to a router via an Ethernet cable.
If you are trying to set up a wireless network, it is important to understand that most wireless routers use two frequency bands: 2.4GHz and 5GHz.
While the 2.4GHz band uses longer waves, providing longer-reaching coverage, the 5GHz band is newer, faster, and more reliable, making it perfect for smaller homes or apartments. But in the end, it all comes down to speed versus range and what your devices need.
10 Steps to Setting Up a Secure Network
Here are the ten steps that will help you set up a secure home network. Please note that router settings vary by type and model, so make the best choice possible.
1. Physically Connect Your Router
Physically connect your router to a modem provided by your ISP with an Ethernet cable. Here’s how you can achieve that:
- Unplug or turn off the cable or DSL modem.
- Power up your wireless router and connect the network cable that came with it into the port on the router labeled Internet or WAN.
- Connect the other end to the cable or DSL modem and power up the modem.
- Don’t connect any devices until you have a strong signal indicating a connection between the router and modem.
2. Locate Your Router’s Interface or Settings
All routers provide a web interface so we can configure them conveniently through a browser. It is important to log into your router settings and change them accordingly to secure your home network.
The easiest way to do that is by typing 192.xxx.x.x into a web browser, swapping out the “x” for your router’s local address. The router address varies between manufacture, so it’s best to check the address you need via a quick internet search.
When prompted, type in your user name and password.
Note: If this method doesn’t work, refer to your router’s user manual for further directions.
3. Change Your Router’s Default Password
Routers generally come with a weak username and password. If a hacker determines the type of router you own, they can look for its default credentials by accessing sites such as RouterPasswords and DefaultPassword. So, the first and most crucial step is to change the default admin credentials for your router.
- While in the router settings, select Change Router Password or a similar option.
- Enter the new password.
- Save the new settings.
Always remember that a strong password is at least eight characters long and consists of a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters.
4. Update Router Encryption
Encryption is an important step in securing your wireless network. Outdated encryption settings can provide hackers with easy access to your network without even the need to guess your password.
- Locate your wireless security settings. Your router might call this section Wireless Security, Wireless Network, or something similar.
- Change the encryption option to WPA2-PSK or WPA3-SAE.
- Apply the new settings.
5. Disable Remote Access to Your Router
While there’s no harm in accessing your router’s admin panel, doing so wirelessly can put you at risk of hackers intercepting your credentials.
It’s best to disable remote access, so even if hackers somehow get to your wireless network, they won’t be able to configure your router.
- While logged into your router’s web interface, look for the Remote Access, Remote Administration, or Remote Management option.
- Ensure that it’s disabled. By default, it’s disabled on most routers, but sometimes you have to disable it manually.
6. Change the Name of Your Network’s SSID
SSID (Service Set Identifier) is the primary name of your wireless network. You should change your default network SSID when you first set up your network, as it prevents unwanted intruders from tapping into your network.
- While logged into the admin console, go to the Wireless settings or Wi-Fi setup section.
- Look for a section named SSID or Network name. Type your name of choice (maximum 32 alphanumeric characters).
- Type in your Wi-Fi password in the respective field, and click Apply or Save to apply the changes.
Note: Your network name should not disclose any personal information. If possible, keep it discreet by selecting a comical name for your network.
7. Change the Router’s Default IP Address
For security reasons, it’s best to change the router’s default IP (the IP address you enter in your browser to connect to the router), making it more resistant to snooping.
- While logged in as an administrator, locate the Network Configuration or similar option.
- Change one or both of the last two numbers of the IP address in the LAN IP Address field. For example, you can change the default IP of 192.168.200.01 on your router to 192.168.200.36 (the IP address on your router will differ).
- Click Apply or Save and wait for your router to reboot.
8. Set Up DHCP Reservation (Static IP Addresses)
For most networks, the router can be kept at its default DHCP setting. This means the router will automatically hand out IP addresses to clients connected to your network, thus saving you any IP management.
If you anticipate connecting servers or any device you may access from outside your network, the best option is to configure DHCP Reservation. This simply means that you are telling the router that a specific device always uses a specific static IP address, which is set aside for it.
For example, your router’s IP address might be 192.168.1.1. So, you may give your email server an IP address of 192.168.1.2. You can also give a third device, such as a Web server, an IP address of 192.168.1.3, and so on.
9. Filter Out Your MAC Address
All devices come with a unique MAC (Media Access Control) address, which is used to communicate with a network segment.
By filtering out each device’s MAC address, you can enhance the security of your network. You can do this by adding the MAC addresses for all your devices to your wireless router’s options, ensuring that only the filtered-out devices can form a connection to your network.
You can usually find the MAC address in the Network Settings menu of your device or by going to the Command Prompt, typing “getmac” and pressing Enter. Similar
- While logged into your router, locate the MAC Filtering option and click it. The MAC Filtering option may be listed as MAC Filter, Network Filter, Network Access, Access Control, or something similar. It may be located under the Wireless, Security, or Advanced menu.
- Click the option to add a new MAC Filter. The button will most likely be an icon that says “Add” or a plus sign (+) or something similar.
- Type in the MAC address of each device in your network that you want to filter out.
Make Securing Your Home Network a Priority
Now you are finally ready to connect to your home network securely. While the process of connecting to a Wi-Fi network will vary slightly depending on the type of device, it normally involves the following steps:
- Locate your computer’s network settings, and search for nearby Wi-Fi networks.
- Select your network from the list of networks provided, and enter your password.
- Try navigating to a webpage from devices on your network. If the page loads successfully, it means your home network is now working!
Securing your home network entails keeping your private data secure from intruders and preventing unauthorized access to your network. Taking the time to secure your home network now will certainly protect you in the long run.
Whether you want to crank up home network security or connect to your home network remotely, you’ll need your own VPN. Here’s how to set one up for free using DD-WRT.
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