secure your home wifi

If you work from home, you probably rely heavily on your home Wi-Fi network and understand the importance of protecting it. What’s more, you and your family members probably count on your home Wi-Fi connection for everything from online banking and shopping to smart home devices such as baby monitors and thermostats. 

With so much at stake, it’s important to keep cybercriminals and scammers from accessing your network. Their actions could compromise your privacy and wreak havoc on your personal and professional life. Fortunately, you can take steps to protect your home Wi-Fi network. Let’s take a look.

Change the default name and password

Manufacturers typically attach a generic name to their wireless routers. Known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID), this default name could be something that’s well known to cybercriminals. That makes it easy for them to access your network. You will need to update it and create a strong Wi-Fi password for your home network as well. Avoid using personal information such as your name or birthdate; instead, opt for something longer that uses a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.1 The router and home network passwords should be updated frequently.

Turn on Wi-Fi network encryption

Although it’s true that most WPA2 and WPA3 routers are equipped with an encryption feature, it’s usually turned off by default. The feature is designed to encrypt any data sent between your wireless channel and your device so no one can interfere without logging on. To enable it, locate the feature in the Wi-Fi settings of your router. You will need your IP address and router login credentials to do so.2

Set up a guest network

Consider using a separate Wi-Fi network that provides guest access. This allows you to hide certain devices and shared folders that are connected to your primary wireless network and you may not want others to see. To set up a guest network, you will need to create a separate SSID and guest Wi-Fi password.2

Disable network name broadcasting

Network name broadcasting is commonly used for businesses that want to offer wireless internet access to their customers and guests. But it’s not necessary for private use. A nearby user who may be trying to find a network will see a list of networks, and yours could be one of them. Again, it’s always best to limit access as much as possible.1

Make sure your router firewall is active

A good firewall is designed to prevent unwanted traffic from accessing your wireless network without your permission. That’s something you obviously want to take advantage of. Although most wireless routers are equipped with a good firewall option, they often are not activated by default. Make sure yours is turned on.1

Update the firmware on your router

Because most routers don’t automatically update their firmware, you might need to do it yourself. This ensures that your router has the most recent security features. In some instances, a router’s firmware may be flawed, and that could open the door for hackers to gain access. Simply visit the manufacturer’s website and download the firmware update file.2

Use a virtual private network (VPN)

A VPN service allows you to establish a secure and encrypted connection that hides your online activity, including everything from the links you click to any files you download. A VPN works by sending your data through an encrypted tunnel to a remote server. It’s important to use a VPN when working on a public network, but it can provide extra security for your home Wi-Fi as well.3

Safeguarding your home Wi-Fi connection is important to keep your family safe and your online activity secure. These steps can help prevent unwanted access and keep scammers and cybercriminals away.

[1] “Keep your home Wi-Fi safe in 7 simple steps,” Dan Rafter, (March 15, 2022).
[2] “10 Best Ways to Protect Your Home Network Security,” Daniel Horowitz, (July 18, 2021).

[3] “What is a VPN?” Steve Symanovich, (February 24, 2022).

The information used to create this article was obtained from sources believed to be reliable to help users address their own risk management and insurance needs. It does not and is not intended to provide legal advice. Nationwide, its affiliates and employees do not guarantee improved results based upon the information contained herein and assume no liability in connection with the information or the provided suggestions. The recommendations provided are general in nature; unique circumstances may not warrant or require implementation of some or all of the suggestions.