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WiFi Security: How to Secure Your Wireless Network in 2022?

Michelle Wilson - November 20, 2021

wifi security how to secure your wireless network in 2022

As a device we use regularly, we often forget that our WiFi Network doesn’t have the same level of security that our other electronic devices have. There aren’t physical walls protecting it from attacks. We can’t set up alarms when someone hops on the network. But, the security of your wireless network and the router that supports your network are essential.

Thankfully, there aren’t many steps required to keep it protected. Unfortunately, the first step you need to take to protect your network is likely to be the hardest.

Getting to Know Your Router

Changing your WiFi settings requires access to the password-protected router. You’ll need to learn the username and password to log in to do this. Unfortunately, most internet service providers don’t give customers their router password on installation.

Service providers often use the same ID/password found through Google. To search, enter the IP address into your web browser address bar. This will bring you to the router’s web interface.

The Difference with Mesh Systems

Current trends provide routers work as mesh systems, systems working as two or three devices to increase the overall range of the wireless network. These networks are supported through mobile applications. As such, changes require the mobile application and the router password.

Changing the Password

Once you’ve gained access to the router, you’ll want to change the password to an original password only you know. The password should be ten characters, with a combination of numbers and letters. Write down the updated password on paper and tape it on the router for later use.

Different Types of WiFi Security

WiFi Encryption

The original version was WEP, which users should avoid at all costs. WPA was the second version, arguably better than WEP, but still has ongoing security issues. Finally, WPA2 evolved as the latest version of encryption. Other options may appear should your router offer a choice (TKIP, CCMP, and AES).

The WPA is technically not a security standard; it’s a certification. It includes one security protocol, TKIP. WPA2 includes two security standards, CCMP and TKIP. CCMP is a decent security standard, while TKIP leaves much desired. CCMP and AES are often interchangeable in terminology—as only computer techies call CCMP by its actual name.

Choosing the Right Option

Ultimately, always choose the best security option for your router. If available, opt for WPA2-AES. This network configuration will give users higher protection against a KRACK attack.

Most current routers are secure by default, using WPA2-AES. After choosing WPA2, some routers will ask whether you’d like TKIP or AES. Newer versions of routers will skip this step, defaulting to the AES option.

Enterprise vs. Pre-Shared Key

When routers first came to market, security wasn’t the top priority. Routers asked users if they’d like to use the Pre-shared key (PSK) or Enterprise mode. PSK operated with one password for everyone on a wireless network. Enterprise mode gave each user their user ID and password but was significantly more challenging to set up. It needed to point to a server computer, keeping track of all usernames and passwords. If your router still has this option, it needs a replacement.

Understanding Hacking Attempts

Using WPA2-AES prevents hacking onto a wireless network; however, they can still guess the password. A new device logging on to the WiFi network transmits an encrypted password copy. The criminals can capture this signal and attempt to guess the password with special software.

Poor WiFi allows hackers to easily knock devices off a network, although most devices automatically save the password for quick rejoining. Unfortunately, logging in after being booted sends them the encrypted password in the process.

How Hackers Guess the Password

There are three methods individuals use to guess WiFi passwords.

  • The first includes low-hanging fruit. Criminals look for passwords in the dictionary or a simple variation. These patterns include words followed by a number or changing a letter to a similar number shape.
  • The second approach uses previously used passwords. Hackers use troves of password combinations within the router to guess the combination.
  • Finally, hackers use brute force. This includes using every possible combination of letters and numbers in any possible combination.

The longer a password is, the longer it would protect against brute force attacks. Avoid using multiple characters in a row, switching between numbers, letters, and special characters.

Guest Network Security Options

All routers can create more than one network. These additional networks are Guest networks, allowing Internet access to visitors. These networks have a different name and password from the main account.

A considerable benefit of Guest networks is the level of isolation. Generally, a Guest network device can’t see or interact with other devices connected to the router. loT devices are infamous for poor security, making a Guest network a reliable option from outside attacks.

Public WiFi security

If a guest or loT device needs access to the Internet, a public network may grant access. All public WiFi networks require a password to access, giving the illusion of security. When a network fails to isolate devices from each other, the network is not secure. For example, an individual sitting nearby in a coffee shop can attach your computer or cell phone through the coffee shop’s network. They don’t even need access to the Internet to do so.

Guest Network Passwords

Guest networks also allow individual users to have unique passwords. For example, the password for the leading network might be long and complicated; guest passwords could be simple (for example, a couple of words or one word with special characters).

The password strength for Guest networks varies. Should the network only activate on an as-needed basis, passwords can be relatively simple. Some routers can permit access according to need, whether a few hours or several days. If the Guest network is going to be used by many devices frequently, the network should have a secure password that’s difficult to guess.

Additional Settings for Guest Networks

Other security options for these networks include a different encryption level. While older devices will only WEP or WPA encryption, Guest networks can hold individual encryption levels while keeping the main network secure.

The number of Guest networks that routers offer can vary drastically. Most current routers are limited to a single Guest network, while other routers provide two different Guest networks. Those offering two networks will provide one Guest network on each frequency (5GHz and 2.4GHz).

WiFi Protected Setup

For the highest levels of security, most routers have two backdoors that need to be closed. Most routers support an alternate option known as WiFi Protected Setup (WPS), an 8-digit pin code printed on the router. The pin allows access to the router without knowing the password, meaning anyone who can access the router can enter your network indefinitely (even if you change the WiFi password. Unfortunately, hackers can also guess your pin to gain access. Any router that supports WPS should have the option disabled.

UPnP

This protocol allows connected devices near a router to poke a hole in the router’s firewall. This functionality comes with some benefits, including a simplified setup for loT devices. The downside is the exposure and vulnerability of these devices. All routers have UPnP enabled as a default setting. Turning this function off can protect your router and maintain security.

Conclusion

While many people consider the safety and security of their devices online, many forget about the router. By taking these steps to secure your WiFi network, you’ll help keep your devices protected online and keep anyone trying to hack your Internet connection barred from entering.

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