Three Security-Boosting Steps to Perform on Every Router
A router is a device that forwards data packets along networks. Routers are located at gateways, the places where two or more networks connect. Routers use headers and forwarding tables to determine the best path for forwarding the packets, and they use protocols such as ICMP to communicate with each other and configure the best route between any two hosts.
The computer industry has worked hard to make sure that a lot of the gadgets we use are mostly plug-and-play. And in other words, you just fire up the device; login and you're ready to go and no configuration necessary. One device you should never consider "plug-and-play," but, is your home's network and wireless router.
There are a few important things everyone should do after the technician leaves your house.
The first and best thing you should always do when you have a new router is log into its control panel. You want to do this so you understand where to change the Wi-Fi access password, change the type of security protocol your router is using, modify the router name, et cetera. Most importantly, you need to login to your router so you can change the admin name and password.
Some routers won't let you change the admin user name and if you don't do this and a bad actor is able to get onto your home network, they can easily log in to your control panel and own your router using the device's default settings.
And if you don't know how to login to your router check the manual that came with it, ask your Internet service provider, or try to find a user manual for your model online.
Next you've logged in to your router now; it's time to make sure you are using Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) as the encryption standard for connecting to your router.
So now, WPA2 is considered the best way to secure your router connection. This standard works by encrypting all traffic between devices and the router and one thing you'll also want to do is make sure that WPA is disabled. This feature allows a weakness in your router that could be exploited by a determined attacker.
Also, your router's encryption protocol settings are often found under the Security heading or something similar.
Next don't go too nuts with this one now and a 20-30 character password with randomly generated letters, numbers, and special symbols is a pretty solid idea. The point is to make it as hard as possible for an attacker to figure out your password. One easy way to do that is to make this password a little longer than most passwords you use online.
So it does mean you should probably use a password manager to remember it, and the occasional need to log new devices onto the network can be a pain. But the extra effort pays off with a more secure password that keeps the bad guys off your network.
Those are just three basic things, but once you're inside your router there's all kinds of other settings you could tweak such as changing the Wi-Fi broadcast channel, change the channel width, adjust your NAT settings, and configure port forwarding.
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