Is your home wireless network (Wi-Fi) safe from snooping criminals? Are your neighbors ‘borrowing’ the Internet access you’re paying for? Wi-Fi is incredibly convenient, but anyone within range of your Wi-Fi can eavesdrop on the information you send and receive, including your email, financial account data and passwords.
Use the tips below to help protect your home network and your devices, and take our quiz to get a personalized assessment of the online risks you face. If you do have a breach, we have suggestions for the steps you should take to safeguard your personal information.
Protect your home Wi-Fi network
Secure your Wi-Fi with WPA2 and a strong password
Configuring your router to use WPA2 is one of the best options for securing your Wi-Fi network. If WPA2 isn’t an option, use WPA, but stay away from using WEP, which is an outdated standard that offers almost zero protection.
Secure access to the wireless router
Most routers come with a default password, or no password at all, that’s used to access its settings. These default passwords are well known to everyone, including online criminals. When you set up your router, use a strong password that’s different from the one you used to secure your Wi-Fi.
Change the wireless network name
Your neighbors and hackers in range of your Wi-Fi (called SSID) can read its name, so you should change it to something that only you recognize.
Turn off remote and wireless access to the router’s settings
Restrict access to the router’s settings to devices that are physically connected to the router by a network cable. This helps prevent someone on the Internet or within range of your Wi-Fi from logging into and tampering with your router’s settings. Update the settings to require HTTPS (and disable HTTP) to access the router’s settings. If you don’t have a computer connected to your router, you’ll need to use a wireless device to configure it.
Enable a guest network
Some routers can create a separate guest network with its own password and network name. This allows you to provide guests with Wi-Fi access without sharing your password or giving them access to the rest of your personal network.
Update your firmware
The term ‘firmware’ refers to the software that drives hardware. It’s a good practice to check your router manufacturer’s site periodically to see if updates are available. If you do find firmware updates, be sure to install them. Firmware updates sometimes close newly discovered security holes in your router
Steps to take if you have a data breach
- If you’re notified of a breach or suspect you’ve been hacked, change your router, Wi-Fi and account passwords immediately; if you use any of these passwords elsewhere (including at work), reset them on every site; use strong, unique passwords for each account to ensure maximum protection
- Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts for charges you don't recognize
- Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion at no cost by visiting annualcreditreport.com; accounts or activity you don't recognize could indicate identity theft, and there are processes in place to dispute them
- Place a credit freeze or fraud alert on your credit reports to provide an extra level of scrutiny should someone try to apply for credit using your information
- Take advantage of credit monitoring services offered in the event of a breach; most companies provide this free of charge
- Add an extra layer of security to your accounts by enabling two-factor authentication; the most common form of this is when a business texts you a one-time code that enables you to access your account
- Keep an eye out for an increase in social engineering attacks, such as phishing (email), vishing (phone), and smishing (text message).
Get a personalized cyber security assessment
Answer a few questions to learn what online risks you face, plus get tips for how to protect yourself.