How to secure your home wifi

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Everything you need to know about securing your home WiFi internet connection from hackers and protecting your valuable data from cybercriminals.

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Once the Unifi guy has finished installing your home WiFi, all you need to do is write down your new WiFi password somewhere and you’re set for life, right?

Sadly, no. The thing is, your WiFi internet connection and by extension, your home internet router is the gateway to all your connected smart devices at home. If you think about it, everything is connected to your home WiFi—your home computer, office laptop, smartphone, or even connected smart devices like your smart door lock, smart TV, or smart air conditioner.

Just imagine what a hacker has access to if they managed to breach your home WiFi internet connection.

Why it’s important to keep your home WiFi safe?

Just because you have a password, it doesn’t mean you have a secure internet connection at home.

An unsecured WiFi password on your router, or your smart devices not updated to the latest firmware—these are just like leaving your front door opened for robbers. You may not realise it, but when hackers get into your internet connection, they have access to a plethora of personal information to potentially sell to others for illegal or illicit purposes. This includes but not limited to:

  • Use and abuse your name, address, and IC number
  • Your usernames and passwords for online accounts e.g. bank account to steal your money
  • Credit card information to make purchases or to sell on the dark web

You should be worried about your home internet connection security and take all the precautions necessary to keep your router hack-proof.

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What happens if someone hacks into your WiFi?

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When your home WiFi is unsecured, it makes it easier for hackers to get into your internet connection. They now have access to your credit card payment data that you’ve used for online shopping, either to use it to buy stuff themselves or to sell on the dark web. They could obtain your passwords for your social media accounts, or worse, your online banking account information to siphon all your money, especially if you are the type to share passwords between multiple websites at once.

What if you’ve brought your company laptop home to get some extra work in? Now the hacker has access to your company information, especially if your company has a shared file system. Hackers can also obtain information to track you, to find out where you work or where you’re going.

Methods hackers use to get into your WiFi

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You’d probably think a password is more than enough to stop hackers from getting into your home WiFi network, but the truth is at most, you’re only stopping your neighbour from freeloading on your internet connection. This is especially true if you’re using unsecured WiFi password encryption. Here are some ways hackers can get into your home WiFi:

1. Not updating your smart device to the latest firmware

Your WiFi router can most definitely be hacked, especially if you’re not using a secured encrypted WiFi password like the WPA2 or WPA3 protocol. For instance, the hackers will be able to figure out your router’s password especially if you’re the type who doesn’t change your WiFi name. How many times have you been to a friend’s house with the WiFi name dlink? Or how about those whose WiFi passwords are qwerty or the numbers 1 to 0?

Your smart gadgets at home that haven’t been updated with the latest firmware could also mean easy access to your WiFi internet connection for a hacker. Hackers work round-the-clock to figure out vulnerabilities to hack into your smart gadgets and gain access to them. In turn, manufacturers continuously look for and fix possible vulnerabilities to safeguard against hackers, so they release firmware updates which not only improve the software but patch those possible vulnerabilities.

What is WPA2 or WPA3?

The WiFi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) is better than the old WEP standard because it scrambles the encryption key and makes sure it isn’t altered when you’re using the internet. It uses the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) instead of TKIP, closing off all potential vulnerabilities that were present in the original WPA and WEP. WPA3 is the new gold standard for protection against hacking with increased cryptographic strength. However, not all new devices are equipped with WPA3 yet.

2. Man-in-the-middle (MITM)

There are more hardcore methods for hackers to force themselves into your home WiFi. One way is called man-in-the-middle (MITM), where the hacker will intercept your internet communication, basically taking control of your internet. For example, you may type in the web address to Maybank2U in your web browser as always. But instead of the actual Maybank2U, the hacker will use DNS (Domain Name Server) hijacking to present a fake lookalike website to fool you. You will enter your login and password credentials, which the hacker will have successfully stolen. Alternatively, they could intercept your messages between you and a friend or family member, impersonating that person to ask for personal information.

3. Packet sniffing

Another method is packet sniffing. In this method, hackers use a device and software combination to read your web traffic. In this instance, the hackers can monitor in real-time what websites you are visiting, and what information you have entered such as your login and passwords that they can steal.

How to keep your home WiFi secure?

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1. Change your default network name

Is your home WiFi internet connection’s name “dlink” or the name of your router brand? It’s time to change that name (called an SSID, or Service Set Identifier) because it makes it harder for hackers to figure out your router brand. If they know the brand, they will know what vulnerabilities the router has to exploit and get into your internet connection. Avoid using personal information like names.

How to change your SSID network name:

  1. Enter your router’s IP address in your web browser (like Google Chrome) to get into your router’s web interface. It’s usually 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1
  2. You should see the login page. Login using the information given by Unifi.
  3. Go to settings. Find an option called SSID or WiFi name to change it.

2. Change the WiFi Password

By default, your Unifi guy should have helped you set up your router password with WPA2 or WPA3 security. This means every new device must enter your WiFi password in order to get an internet connection at your home. But older routers may still be using the old WEP password encryption. Here’s how you can check:

  1. Enter your router’s IP address in your web browser (like Google Chrome) to get into your router’s web interface. It’s usually 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1
  2. You should see the login page. Login using the information given by Unifi.
  3. Go to settings. Search for an option called “Security”.
  4. Confirm your router password is set to WPA2 or WPA3. Enter a strong password. It should be about eight characters long (or longer), with a mix of letters (caps and not caps), numbers, and symbols like @ and $.

Alternatively, you can change your home WiFi router password often to minimise the chance of hacking. The only troublesome part about this is that all your devices will need to reconnect to your home WiFi again.

While you’re at it, you should also change your router’s login and password too. Usually, you’re left with the default settings, which anyone could guess to hack into your router. Here’s what you should need to do:

To change your router’s password:

  1. Enter your router’s IP address in your web browser (like Google Chrome) to get into your router’s web interface. It’s usually 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1
  2. You should see the login page. Login using the information given by Unifi.
  3. Go to settings. Find an option to “Change Router Password” or something similar
  4. Enter the new password. Save the settings.

3. Switch off your router when you’re not at home

If there’s nobody at home, especially for long hours during the day—just switch off your home WiFi. When you shut off your WiFi, there’s a next-to-zero chance for hackers to get into your home internet connection. As a plus point, if you unplug your router, you’re also protecting it from being damaged by an electrical power surge.

However, this doesn’t mean you’re saving money on your electricity bill.

4. Make sure your firewall is switched on

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© rawpixel | 123rf

Firewalls, a way to prevent traffic from entering or leaving your internet connection, aren’t just for your computers. Most new routers also come with a built-in firewall too to protect from a potential hacker attack. It’s usually switched on by default, but it doesn’t hurt to check.

  1. Enter your router web interface through your web browser and log in.
  2. Search for “Firewall” or “SPI Firewall”, or something along those lines.
  3. If not enabled, enable it, “save” then “apply”.

5. Make sure your firmware is updated

Most modern routers are able to update themselves when new firmware is available, but to be safe you can always cross-check your router’s firmware online (head to your routers web interface through your web browser) to make sure it’s always on the latest version. The firmware will set the security standards for your network, with the latest bug fixes and security patches to make sure no hackers can get in through an exploit.

In the same way, do also check that all your other connected smart devices at home, such as your smart door lock and smart TV, are also updated to the latest firmware for the same reasons. If a device doesn’t need to connect to your home WiFi, then it’s best you disable it from doing so.

How to retrieve a lost WiFi password?

Lost your WiFi password or you’re not sure what’s the new password so you can give it to guests at home? Here’s how you can check your home WiFi internet connection password.

How to check WiFi password on your computer on Windows 10

  1. Head to “Start” (the Windows icon on the bottom left), then “Settings”, “Network & Internet”, “Network and Sharing Center”
  2. In “Network and Sharing Center”, find your WiFi network name next to connections
  3. Under “WiFi” status, choose “Wireless Properties”
  4. From here, click on the “Security” tab, then click the “Show characters” check box to see the WiFi network password.

How to check WiFi password on your computer – Apple Mac

  1. Click the “Search” icon on your top right (the magnifying glass), then type in “Keychain Access” to search for the app. Click on it.
  2. On the bottom tab on the left, click “Passwords”
  3. Find your WiFi connection SSID
  4. Click “Show Password”.

How to check WiFi password on phone – Android 10

  1. Go to “Settings”, then “Connections”, then “WiFi”.
  2. Tap on “QR Code” at the bottom left of the screen. Screenshot the QR code.
  3. Use a QR code app like TrendMicro’s QRScanner to upload the screenshot to see the password.

How to check WiFi password on phone – Apple iPhone

You can’t check your WiFi password on your iPhone but you can share your password with your friend if they are using an iPhone. Here’s how:

  1. Make sure your iPhone is next to your friend’s iPhone or iPad.
  2. Use their device to try and connect to your WiFi internet connection.
  3. On your iPhone, you should see the option to “Share Your WiFi”. Just confirm you’ll share the password and you’re all set.

It is important to secure your home WiFi from possible hackers. The best part is doing so is very easy—all you need to do is follow the steps above so you can start surfing the web securely. Make sure your home WiFi password is using WPA2 or WPA3, and that the firmware for all your connected smart gadgets is updated as soon as possible.

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