Making your home Wi-Fi network more secure

Posted at 9:47 AM, Aug 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-29 11:47:14-04

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Be honest, have you changed your Wi-Fi password recently, or when you got the router did you just set it up in a few easy steps and never review the information?

If you answered no and then yes, you could be at risk of having your home Wi-Fi network being taken advantage of.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make it more secure.

Chris Roosenraad, the Head of Security, Privacy, and Trust at Google Fiber wrote a blog post about ways to improve your home Wi-Fi network security.

He said the first step is making sure you have the best encryption turned on, which is called WPA2.

Roosenraad said, "You need to make sure it’s there, you need to make sure that is enabled, especially if you have a device that may be a couple of years old."

He also said most companies that make Wi-Fi routers have instructions in the box or online to help you change these important settings.

Another thing you can do is change the wireless network ID (SSID) as well as the password.

You'll also want to change the username and password that's used to log into your Wi-Fi router settings.

"More home routers and Wi-Fi devices enable you to set up multiple SSIDs, including one that would essentially only allow the same devices to talk to the cloud," said Roosenraad.

The process that Roosenraad mentioned is called separation.

It lets you put your smart home devices on a separate network from your main one, making them less accessible to hackers.

The Google Fiber security and privacy specialist said, "The advantage of that is if something goes wrong with one of those Internet of Things (IoT) devices, then you don’t have to worry about there being a back door into the network with everything else."

Most Wi-Fi routers also have the ability to only allow devices with approved MAC addresses to use them.

A MAC address is a unique identifier that every device has.

While this may be seen as an extreme measure, it prevents devices from joining your Wi-Fi network if their MAC addresses aren't added to the approved list.

"The downside is that you then have to get the MAC address for every single device on your network," said Roosenraad.

When you get rid of a device, you need to remember to remove the MAC address associated with it. otherwise, someone could use it to access your Wi-Fi network.

Roosenraad said, "The greatest point that I want to convey is that, as with anything home maintenance-related thing, you’re going to want to make sure you update these things and check on them."

This means changing these settings every 6 months or so and making sure the firmware is updated often on your Wi-Fi router.