Home Wifi security (best practices)

You have your WiFi network at home, your cell phones, computers, TVs, smart devices are all connected to it. You get the ability to change your light bulb color and brightness from your smartphone. You can set the mood lighting. You can stream all of the media you want to multiple devices at once, but what happens when a bad person gets on your network because it was set up poorly? All of those home networks comforts become easier attack vectors for the bad guys to access your data or worse.

Best practices for home WiFi security

  1. Know how to reset the factory default settings
  2. Never install it and leave it
    1. Don’t trust your service provider made any major setting changes either
  3. Do the simple changes first
    1. Simple changes go along way in security
  4. Make only one change at a time, and test everything
  5. Document, Document, Document your changes. Screenshots preferred for before and after changes so that you know how to revert when something goes sideways, otherwise see best practice #1.

Where do you start you ask?

  • Change the default password for your modem/router
    • Why is this the first step?
      • This site holds a database of all known default username/password combinations for manufacturer/model combinations
    • How?
  • Change the SSID of your WiFi network
    • Don’t add to the conglomerate of nearby networks named CenturyLink##### or Linksys#####, make it your own
    • Don’t change it to your name, address or “Can’t_Hack_Me” either
      • This encourages bad people to do bad things
      • I prefer “FBI_Surveillance_Van” – TOTALLY KIDDING. Pick something that works for you.
    • How?
  • Enable the “Guest” WiFi network on your device
    • While I am sure you enjoy having guests over, you don’t necessarily want them on the same network as your “secret” folders
    • How?
  • Disable SSID broadcast
    • Hide your network from the outside world
    • How?
  • Turn off your WiFi when on vacation
    • Conserve power, be Eco-friendly, reduce that threat vector
      • Simply pull the power cable!

If you don’t feel comfortable performing any of these on your WiFi modem/router, there are plenty of IT-related service providers that would be happy to take your money, but realistically the above steps shouldn’t take more than an hour or two once you get started.

Alright, now that all of the low hanging fruit has been picked, let’s look at some more advanced security settings. These get a bit more difficult and take a little bit more effort to implement successfully.

  • Enable MAC address filtering
    • I know, you just read that bullet item and said WTH is this guy talking about. Don’t worry, easy explanation here
  • Assign static addresses to your devices
    • Did your eyes just glaze over? It’s OK, we’ll get it sorted out here
  • Turn off unnecessary services on your router
    • If you don’t have a gaming console in your home, you don’t need access to your modem/ router/firewall for gaming access
    • How?

This is by no means a comprehensive list; however, it is a great start. Don’t allow it to overwhelm you, there is plenty of documentation online regarding how to do some of these changes. Once these are done, your home WiFi network will be more secure, and you will have a piece of mind knowing that, and that YOU did it.

Good luck and be safe. Stay tuned for other DIY IT related articles.

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