You might not realize it, but Wi-Fi is now almost 30 years old. While many of us remember it starting to pop up in the early 2000s, it was actually invented in 1991. Since then, Wi-Fi usage has exploded. If you live in an apartment, people probably can’t even count how many Wi-Fi networks there are.
You can now even find Wi-Fi hubs in rural areas at cafes, restaurants, and even state parks.
With that said, it’s surprising how little most people know about the technology and how misusing it can put your data at risk. Here’s everything you need to know to be safe.
Don’t Use The Default Router Name
When you first pop your router out of the box, it likely comes with a name like Linksys-1 or Netgear 5G. While you may be tempted to quickly add a password and then enjoy accessing the internet, this is a huge mistake.
If hackers know what type of router you have, it makes it much easier for them to look up information online that they could use it to hack. For example, they can find default admin account information that you may have hesitated to change and then use it to access your network.
The scary part is that this doesn’t usually take more than a simple Google search to find this sensitive information.
Should You Use a Unique Wi-Fi Name?
While it’s definitely safer to use a unique Wi-Fi name versus the default, it is not a lot better. This is because people can search on websites like Wigle for unique Wi-Fi names, so it’s only a matter of time before someone uses that to try to track you down.
While it’s not the worst mistake you can make with your Wi-Fi, you’re better off sticking to something more generic like Internet 1. This will make it much more difficult to find your network out of the thousands or possibly millions of other ones out there with the same name.
Consider Hiding Your SSID
Your SSID (a.k.a your router name) generally appears to anybody who opens up their Wi-Fi-enabled device within a certain range of your router. Of course, hackers and other snoops will have difficulty finding it if it is not listed.
Under your router settings, you should have the option to hide your SSID. This means you have to directly search for it for new devices to connect. This one extra step is a nice additional layer of privacy for you.
Conceal Your IP Address
While most people are concerned with the Wi-Fi router security, they forget the more frequent target is your IP address itself. Whether you’re connected to your home network or your cell network, your IP address can be used to track what you do online.
Of course, the stakes are much higher if you connect with your home network since that may also lead to all your other digital devices, including IoT devices like SmartTVs and smart locks.
You might be asking yourself, “how do I hide my IP?” It’s pretty easy. With a VPN or virtual private network, you can conceal your IP address and encrypt your internet connection making everything you do online much safer and private.
Wherever you go, and especially if you use public Wi-Fi, you should conceal your IP address by using a VPN.
Add Network Security Tools
We’re not going to tell you to password-protect your Wi-Fi network. If you don’t know that by now, you may have much bigger issues—though usually definitely make sure there is minimum WPA2 encryption in place.
However, you should also look into network security tools like firewalls. With a firewall, you can not only regulate your network traffic but also monitor and set exceptions making it more difficult for unauthorized individuals to gain access to it. Further, if you have children, you can more easily set content and usage restrictions that go well beyond what device-level limitations can do.
How to Improve the Security of Your Wi-Fi Network
With so many people now working from home, it’s never been a better time to consider your Wi-Fi network’s security. The digital world is full of infinite threats. The best way to protect yourself from them is for you to blend into the masses and have your home network disappear.
By hiding your IP address, using a generic router name, and concealing your SSID, you’ll make yourself nearly invisible—and that’s exactly what you want! Stay safe and start following these tips now.