Due to software errors or incorrectly configured interfaces, the home router can become a gateway for hackers. Here are ten security tips that users should keep in mind when setting up their home network security.
Wireless Networking Security
Once the router is set up, the small box is often quickly forgotten – unless the Internet suddenly fails or there is a problem. It is worth checking the home network security settings in the home network every now and then. Because those who neglect the topic of router security endanger the entire home network. Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities to infect connected computers, smartphones or smart home devices and add them to a bot network, for example. In this way, home networks become spam and virus hurlers, crypto-mining hubs or the starting point for telephone and internet fraud without the owner’s knowledge.
The Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) has therefore published a guide for more router security. On the website “BSI for Citizens”, the authority provides tips on how consumers can secure their home WiFi network against attackers. There is no absolute security. But every user can significantly improve protection against misuse of their Internet and telephone connections by following the ten tips below:
Building A Secure Home Network
1. Keep the operating system up to date
A router also has an operating system. Updates bring new functions and plug security holes. Therefore, you should – if possible – activate automatic updates in the router menu or check for updates on the router’s settings page.
2. Switch off remote access
For example, many routers offer to connect connected hard drives to the Internet. This practical function can be a point of attack and should be deactivated in the settings menu – just like all unused functions of a router. A security test by the specialist portal “Heise online” shows whether and which remote access options are active on the router .
3. Configure the WiFi router via a cable connection
Even if it is more practical via WLAN – for setup before the first start-up and for all maintenance work, you should connect your computer to the router via LAN or USB cable.
4. Change the WiFi password immediately
Preset WiFi passwords are insecure, they can be guessed and cracked. Therefore, users should assign their own complex password with at least 20 characters. If it is not changed, there is a risk that attackers will read the password specified by the manufacturer, for example with the help of special apps. When making changes, you should also check whether secure WPA2 encryption is activated.
5. Change administrator password
The password used to access the device’s sensitive settings menu is often the same for many or all routers from one manufacturer. Or password protection is not activated at all. Here you have to set an individual, secure password.
6. Change network name
Users should give their WLAN a new network name (SSID) because the preset often contains the manufacturer’s name and device type, which attackers could take advantage of if security gaps were not blocked. The new SSID should not have any relation to the owner of the Internet connection, so it should not contain any first or last name, street, location or the like.
7. Call up the settings menu via https
The router menu can be called up with any browser by entering the address given by the manufacturer – for example 192.168.2.1 or “fritz.box” – in the address bar. However, you should make sure that you access the menu via a secure connection. This can be seen from the abbreviation “https”. For safety reasons, no other websites should be open while you are making the settings.
8. WPS PIN off
“Wi-Fi Protected Setup” (WPS) is a standard for easily setting up an encrypted WLAN network. WPS with a PIN, which can be read on a sticker or a display on the device, can be cracked quickly and should be switched off.
9. Do not leave WLAN on 24/7
The security principle of deactivating the WLAN when it is not in use is simple but effective – for example at night, during a long absence or on vacation. Because what is not connected cannot be attacked. Many routers offer practical time switches in the settings menu.
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10. Surf safely even on the go
With free WiFi, users can now surf in public in many places, for example in hotels, cafes or department stores. But be careful if there are several similar entries in the list of available networks. The magazine “Computerbild” warns of this. Fraudsters could offer their own hotspots with such names in order to get confused with passwords or other private data. Therefore, it is better to ask the provider what the correct WLAN is called.
Secure My Router
- When buying a router, make sure that the manufacturer regularly updates its models.
- Regularly install the security updates for the router. Alternatively, you can activate the automatic installation of security updates by the manufacturer or the provider.
- Follow the safety tips for setting up the router.
- There are additional instructions for WLAN-capable routers .
- Access to the web interface and the router’s WLAN should each be secured with a secure individual key.
- The router access password should be changed regularly.
How Do Wireless Routers Work?
When technology experts talk about the Internet, there are often numerous technical terms – including the term router. We’ll show you what it is and how a router works.
- The router is a fairly small piece of hardware, which you usually get from your Internet provider for the ordered Internet connection. This enables you to access the Internet. If you connect the router to the DSL connection, you have the option of activating your Internet access with the password from your provider.
- The router can now pass on the Internet signal to other computers via a LAN cable, or share the signal with other computers or smartphones via WLAN.
- The router also establishes a local network so that you can transfer files between two computers. You can also access your local network from the other end of the world through a VPN connection.
- The router mediates between the individual computers or smartphones and the Internet. For example, if you want to go to any website, your browser will forward this request to the router.
- The router sends the request across the Internet. If the answer comes, the router sends the required data to the computer. This mediation usually takes less than a second, depending on your internet speed, so you don’t notice this process at all.
- A computer is not really visible to the Internet. The router controls all traffic so that the computer remains largely protected. Similar to the firewall in the computer, the router can also block out some dangers in advance.