Monday, December 10, 2018

How To Secure Your Wireless Router

by Josh Snow (writer), Boise, November 16, 2016

Credit: Creative Commons - labeled for reuse
Anonymous Hacking Group Logo

This article will explain how to secure your wireless internet at home and at work.

Nowadays, most homes are equipped with wireless internet. While this has been a game changing technology, it comes with some risks. In fact, most homes that have a wireless router are an easy target to hack. Cyber security is more important than ever as more and more devices are connected to the internet. Smart T.V.’s, refrigerators, washers and dryers, and coffee machines are commonly connected to wireless networks, demanding a more serious look at your wireless network security.

The rise of IoT (Internet of Things) connected to home networks has become a serious cause of concern. Exploitation of these devices is often times very easy if the hacker has access to your network. Often times IoT devices are exploited for massive DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. These attacks work by a hacker gaining control of hundreds, if not thousands of devices, in an effort to use them to overwhelm a server causing it to shut down. More malicious hackers have the potential to cause more damage than simply taking your bandwidth and processing power. Recently a case study was done, showing how a connected thermostat can be hacked to heat to 99 degrees and will not release control of the thermostat until you pay a ransom.

This article will explain how to secure your wireless internet to prevent your neighbors from stealing your internet connection, or worse, stealing your personal information as well as preventing malicious hackers from exploiting IoT devices on your network. Let’s get started!

  1. Locate your wireless router. It should be located next to a phone, ethernet or cable port. Write down the make and model of your router, you will need this later.
  2. Using a computer that is in your home (and connected to your network) open up a web browser such as Google Chrome.
  3. Connect to your router by typing in your browser search bar. The same place that you would type in a website. There are other router IP addresses, this is just the most common one.
  4. The router’s login screen should appear. If it doesn’t, make sure you are connected to the same network as your router. You will need to login to your router by typing in your username and password. If you haven’t done this before, you can locate your login and password information by doing a Google search using the make and model that you wrote down. Once logged in, change your password. This is the first step in securing your wireless internet.
  5. Locate the menu for your wireless settings. Ensure that you are using WPA2 with AES and TKIP encryption if available. You do not want WEP, as it easily exploitable.
  6. Change your WPA2 password here as well. Most keys are printed on the back of your router and a simple picture by a visitor will give them easy access to your network. It’s best to change this to a long nonsense alphanumeric password.
  7. You will also want to change your BSID (name of router) to something that doesn’t describe the model of your router. By default, most routers broadcast the name and model of your router, making it easier for an attacker to exploit your network.
  8. You can also “hide” your network from being broadcast publicly. Although, this is easily bypassed by a knowledgeable hacker. But it is a preventative measure that can’t hurt. If you hide your network, you will have to “Connect to a hidden network” on all computers attempting to access your network. It will not show up when a device is searching for wireless networks in the area. You will have to manually type in the BSID (router name) and password.
  9. Most likely you will also see an option called range. This tells the router how far to broadcast your wireless signal. You will need to play with the settings to determine how far the signal goes. Ideally, you want the signal to cover your house, but not your neighbors.
  10. While WPA2 is considered the most secure way to protect your network, it is still easily exploitable by a knowledgeable hacker if you have WPS enabled. Look in your router settings for WPS and make sure it is disabled. By default, almost all routers have this enabled. WPS was meant to make connecting devices to your network easy, by pushing a button on your router and connecting a device with an 8 digit pin. Unfortunately, WPS has been exploited, allowing a brute force script such as Reaver, to run through all possible 4 digit combinations until the right pin is found. Bypassing all security measures you may have set up.

By following the steps above you will have maximized your wireless network security. Educate others about the importance of wireless security. If left unsecure, an intruder can steal your internet, slowing your internet speed at the very least. An experienced intruder can also monitor your traffic with a program like Wireshark, allowing the possibility of obtaining your credit card information, bank information and much more. While uncommon, a malicious hacker could start a fire in your house remotely. This can be done by overwhelming your printer, causing mechanics to spin continuously until enough friction develops to start paper on fire. Most printer manufacturers are working on firmware fixes to address these issues however. Hackers are getting more and more creative. Drone technology has taken big leaps since its inception. Drones with special equipment are being outfitted to scan residential neighborhoods for exploitable devices. Securing your wireless network can protect you and your family from unwanted intrusions.

About the Writer

Josh Snow is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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