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Ways to Secure Your Router

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Installing a Wi-Fi network at home is a great idea but you also need to look at the security challenges associated with it. Having a poorly secured router can not only rob you of your precious bandwidth but it may also land you in trouble if a hacker or criminal uses your network to commit a crime. Most people do not give much importance to router security but it is vital to learn how to secure your router correctly so that your home network remains safe from all types of hacking and security attacks. Here are some of the top tips to secure your router:

1) Update Your Router Firmware – Most router manufacturers release bug fixes and security patches from time to time so it is vital to check and update the router firmware as and when the updates are available. Most routers do not have built-in facility to auto-update the firmware so you need to check and install the updates manually. You may also migrate to third party firmwares like OpenWRT and DD-WRT since they are less prone to security attacks.

2) Do Not Keep Your Network Open – In order to protect your network from unauthorized access, it is extremely important to close the network and password protect it with WPA2 or WEP encryption. As far as router security modes are concerned, WPA2 (or WPA) is far better but WEP is compatible with older systems and gaming devices.

Speaking of passwords, make sure to choose an extremely difficult password that cannot be cracked by guesswork or dictionary attacks. Also, you must change the default login credentials of the router to protect your network from both criminals and casual users.

3) Disable Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) – While UPnP makes it easy to forward ports without manual intervention, it is also prone to several types of security attacks. Make sure to disable UPnP from the router setup window and forward ports manually in case you need to use applications that need port forwarding.

4) Change Your SSID Settings – Most routers use manufacturer’s name as the default SSID but it also makes the network prone to security attacks. Change the SSID name to something unique that cannot be guessed by your neighbors and make sure to disable SSID broadcasting so that your network cannot be found by casual scanning of networks.

5) Disable Remote Administration and Guest Networks – Most routers include a remote administration feature that can help you to configure your router from anywhere in the world. However, this can also lead to security breaches so you must disable remote and wireless administration functionality. In addition, you need to disable guest networks as they allow other people to use your wireless network without providing any security credentials.

6) Use Network Monitoring Software and Firewall – For total protection of your network, it makes sense to use a network monitoring application and firewall. There are several network monitoring applications available that can provide quick information on the number of users connected to your network (as well as their IP addresses, MAC addresses etc.) so that you can take corrective action as soon as you discover unknown users connected to your network. Also, remember to enable the firewall on your router so that your network remains free from malicious programs.

7) IP and MAC Address Filtering – To enhance the security of your network, you can change the default IP address and IP pool available to devices through your router. In addition, you can enable MAC address filtering so that only known devices are able to use your network. While these features make configuration of additional devices more challenging, they also protect your network from most security threats.

June 2, 2014

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