It doesn’t take an episode of British tech-horror hit TV series “Black Mirror” to understand the most frightening ramifications of our technology-dependent society. Like unrelenting vines, technology has slowly crept in and taken over every aspect of our lifestyle—our financial, social, and professional lives are all contingent on the successful security and preservation of our digital records.
But with that dependence comes the potential for disaster. A vengeful cybercriminal with your personal information can wreak havoc on you for the rest of your life, in the form of theft, blackmail, extortion, or pure chaos. Everyone is vulnerable—just recently, Yahoo announced the theft of over 1 billion users’ info. And authorities still don’t know who perpetrated the day-long takedown of Twitter and other social media sites this Fall.
It’s hopeless, especially in 2017, to think one will ever have full, cybercriminal-proof cybersecurity. But even for the technically uninitiated, there are ways to plug the more obvious leaks in the ship. One of them is immediately securing your home Wi-Fi network. If your Wi-Fi network is compromised, hackers will be able to see your internet history, view all data you upload and download from your computer, and send messages impersonating you from your computer. They can also control what you see, meaning they can redirect you to an official-looking webpage that will pilfer your username, password, and other info that can be used against you.
The days of just having a single password are over. Here are 5 easy ways to secure your home Wi-Fi network and give you peace of mind this year.
- Change Your Wi-Fi’s Name
Most people leave the routers with their factory names—“linksys,” “cisco,” etc. To do so immediately gives potential hackers the identity of the router manufacturer, which they can use to launch specific attacks based on the known vulnerabilities of the machine.
Titling it with your first name like “Timothy’s home network” is no good, either—any personal info foolishly identifies you among the other Wi-Fi networks around you. It’s like sticking a hand out and saying, “It’s Timothy! Hack me!” It’s best to make the name something obscure—or, if you’re truly trying to throw off a no-good cybercriminal, make it the name of another router company…
- Turn Off The Wi-Fi When Away
If a hacker is in range of your Wi-Fi, they can try all sorts of sneaks and tricks to break into your network. This may border on the paranoid side, but when you’re on vacation, you won’t be able to see who pulls up near your house or apartment with a computer, so it’s a good idea to turn off your Wi-Fi when you’re not at home for extended periods of time. By the way, in the digital age, this is the only fool-proof way to never get hacked—turning all your devices off, period.
- Encrypt Your Network
There are a few different encryption methods for wireless routers, including WEP, WPA, and WPA2. WEP is the most basic and therefore the easiest to hack, while WPA2 is newer and more encrypted. If you have a router manufactured past 2006, then go with WPA2. To do this, open the security settings on your router’s configuration page. You should find an option to select WPA2 and create a password along with this. Make the password as hard to figure out as possible—a mishmash of letters, names, numbers, and special characters will do the trick.
- Disable Remote Access
Shockingly enough, some routers allow devices not connected to the Wi-Fi network to access the interface. This is called “remote access” and you want to turn it off. Every router is different, but somewhere on your web interface should be an option to turn off “remote administration” or “remote access.” This is a fast and simple way to immediately improve your Wi-Fi’s security.
- Reduce The Range Of Your Signal
If a hacker can’t get within range of your signal, and remote access is turned off, there’s very little they can do to cause trouble. There are a couple ways you can confine the signal, if you live in an apartment complex, to your own pad: you can decrease the signal range by changing the mode of your router to 802.11g instead of the defaults 802.11b or 802.11n. You can place the router under a table, inside a small box, or encase it in aluminum foil. There is even special Wi-Fi-blocking paint that absorbs signals and keeps all Wi-Fi within the room. So when your significant other catches you painting all the walls of your room, you can let them know: it was for cybersecurity’s sake.
About the Author:
Ellie Martin is co-founder of Startup Change group. Her works have been featured on Yahoo! , Wisebread, AOL, among others. She currently splits her time between her home office in New York and Israel. You may connect with her on Twitter.