Do you have a wireless router in your home? If you do, is it password-protected?
Just like you wouldn’t let a stranger use your email account or borrow your driver’s license, you shouldn’t leave your home wi-fi unprotected. Keep reading to find out why … and how you can keep your wireless connection private.
Why does it matter?
There are three main reasons to keep your wireless router protected by a password.
How do I tell if my Wi-Fi is unsecured?
When you go to connect your computer or smartphone to your home’s wi-fi, you’ll see a list of available networks. If a picture of a lock appears next to your home network’s name, it has a password set. If there’s no lock, it’s open and anyone can access it.
How do I set my password?
This varies depending on what kind of router you have, but the owner’s manuals for some of the most common wireless routers can be found on the D&P Communications Help Guides page. If you don’t see your router listed, and you can’t find your owner’s manual, don’t worry — you will almost certainly be able to find a downloadable owner’s manual for your router by typing its name (such as “Linksys E1200”) into Google.
What else can I do?
Setting a password isn’t the only way to make your home wi-fi network more secure. If your network’s name includes the brand name of your router — such as Linksys or Netgear — change it to something else. Knowing what kind of router you’re using gives would-be hackers one more tool to use against you.
Another option, if you only use a few devices (such as computers or smartphones) to connect to the internet and you don’t plan to use anything else in the near future, is to program your router to only accept connections from those specific devices. Every device has a unique identifier known as a MAC address, and you can set your router to only accept connections from MAC addresses it “knows.” This adds a layer of security, but also can be inconvenient, because if you buy a new computer or phone, bring a laptop home from work, or have a guest who needs to use your network, your router’s settings will need to be changed before you can connect any new device.
Finally, make sure your password is something hard to guess. Passwords like “admin,” “password,” “qwerty,” and “123456” are among the first things a hacker will try if they’re trying to gain unauthorized access to your network. Using your children’s names or your high school mascot is also a bad idea. Pick something that’s easy for you to remember, but hard for anyone else to figure out based on readily available information about you.