Technology Computer & Networking security

Beef up Your Wireless Router Security in 10 Minutes or Less

A lot of folks want to have the most secure home network possible but are afraid that it might just take too much time and effort to lock their network down. It doesn’t have to take you hours upon hours to add some serious security measures to your existing wireless network.

Let’s check out some quick fixes that you can accomplish in 10 minutes or less that will help you beef up your wireless security:

4 Minutes – Upgrade Your Router’s Firmware

In order to make sure your router has the latest and greatest operating system, you’ll need to make sure it’s firmware is up to date. This is a relatively painless process on most modern routers that feature a button within the administration console that says something to the effect of “Check for Updates” and/or “Update Firmware".

You should probably write down, screenshot, or otherwise backup  your router’s configuration information before you upgrade, in case anything goes wrong. Once you begin the upgrade, make sure that you don’t interrupt the upgrade process or you could “brick” your router rendering it unusable. Follow all instructions from the manufacturer to a tee to ensure a successful upgrade.  

Once you’ve upgraded and the router has rebooted, you should be running the latest and most up-to-date version of the router’s OS. Check the firmware version to ensure the upgrade completed successfully.

2 Minutes – Turn on WPA2 Encryption and Create a Strong Network Name and Shared Key

If your network doesn’t have any security turned on at all then not only are you giving your neighbors a free ride, you also risk having hackers invade your network and eavesdrop on your traffic.

You should enable WPA2 encryption and change the default network name to something not on the list of most commonly used network names. Setting a strong network name helps protect against wireless attacks that use rainbow table cracking tools. Setting a strong password on your wireless network is also an essential part of your network security posture.

If your wireless router doesn’t offer WPA2 (or a more current standard) as an option for the type of wireless security, it's time to upgrade to a router that does.

1 Minute – Change Your Router’s DNS Settings to Point to a Malware Filtering Alternate DNS

One super simple change you can make that can potentially boost your Internet browsing speed as well as enhance your security by filtering out many malware links and phishing sites is to point your router’s DNS lookup servers setting to an security-filtered public DNS services such as OpenDNS or Norton’s ConnectSafe DNS. This change, which is usually made in the router’s WAN configuration page, is completely transparent to network users and applies to all computers and devices that use the router (unless they are manually pointed to other servers).

To find out more about Security Filtered DNS, check out our article: Improve Your Security With Alternate DNS

2 Minutes – Enable, Configure, And Test Your Router’s Firewall

Most modern home routers feature a built in firewall that can be easily configured to offer protection from network-based attacks. Many router’s also offer a “stealth mode” option to help make your network a less attractive target by making it less conspicuous to attackers. Check out our article on Firewall Best Practices for information on how you might want to set up your firewall.

When you think you’ve got it set up correctly, read our article on How to Test Your Firewall

1 Minute – Enable Other Built-in Router Security Features

You might want to consider turning on other security features of your home router, such as limiting the ability to administer your router via wireless and also using the router’s access schedule to sever the connection to the Internet during late night hours.

Check your router manufacturer’s website to learn more about the specific security features offered on your router.

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