The convenience of technology in our homes can come at a cost if we’re not careful. The media likes to scare the public with threats of hackers but it’s not as horrible as they make it sound. It is true that at one point or another, your information was stolen already from another company you trusted it with, but that is besides the point. Most of the time you are not a large enough target for a cyber attacker to even consider. It is a business for them, which means they’re thinking about their return on investment. Hacking into your home network will not net a lot of value for them unless it is extremely easy to get in. A few simple changes can make things immensely more difficult and not worth the effort.
The first and probably most important device to secure is your router. There are three key things to understand about your router (assuming you have a wireless router). The most important step to take is to change the default username/password for the router. Each router model has a default username/password combination that is used to access the administrative menus. Attackers will use these known combinations and probe routers to gain access. To log in to your router, you need to be on the same network as it (at home). Using a web browser, go to the following address: “192.168.1.1”. Unless your provider has changed the address that should be how you connect to your router. You may be prompted for a password immediately or it may happen later when attempting to make a change. You will need to use the default credentials for your router model. Once logged in, change the username and password.
Other precautions involve the SSID (service set identifier) or the name of your wireless network. If you didn’t name it already it is probably using a default name ending with random numbers and/or letters. It is not necessary to change the name but it is something to consider. If you want to be more cautious, you can turn off broadcasting. This means that people won’t see the wifi network on their devices even though it is still there. To add a device to the wireless network would require manual typing in of the SSID in addition to the password. More advanced users can create a guest network like you might see in a hotel or hospital but I won’t go into how that is done.
After making changes to your router, consider checking to see if any other device that connects to it has a default username/password to change. This means any “smart” devices: TVs, refrigerator, thermostats, security systems, etc. Some times this means doing some research to find the answer from the manufacturer. The security of smart devices is not what it should be yet and precautions do need to be taken.
All it takes is simple changes to create a more secure home network.