Cyber security and cyber-crime are on the rise globally, and while some believe that these cyber security concerns are reserved solely for big organisations, that is not the case. If you have an internet connection with a wireless router, you are at risk for data theft and malicious network attacks even with a network password in place. Find My Fibre strives to ensure that you can enjoy super-fast internet with total peace of mind. To do this, we have put together some guidelines to maintain a safe Wi-Fi network.

Change or hide the name of your network

It is important to reset the network name (also known as the Service Set Identifier) after installation. The default name usually indicates the type of router that you own to anyone in range of its signal and if malicious parties know the name of the model and manufacturer of your router, they can find out what the model vulnerabilities are and attempt to exploit them to gain access to your network.

When choosing a new name for the network, it is strongly advisable not to use your name or any personal information (such as date of birth), as this will open you up to identity theft and potentially pinpoint who in the network area the network belongs to (in complexes there will be many network names with no way to identify which network belongs to a particular unit, which provides further security). If you would like to take your network security a step further, there is also an option to hide your SSID altogether so that users will have to know the name of the Wi-fi network before being able to find and connect to it.

Set a strong, unique network password and update it regularly

All wireless routers come with a default password which is necessary to install and connect the router. These default passwords are often easy to acquire if one knows the manufacturer and model type which is why it is critical to change both the name and the password after installation. Effective passwords include numbers, both upper and lowercase letters as well as symbols and are the most secure if they are at least 20 characters long. Changing the password regularly is also important in keeping the network secure.  Once every 4-6 months is generally sufficient for optimising safety while avoiding the pitfalls of changing it too often (causing a higher likelihood that you will lose or forget the password).

Passwords are often broken through a cyberattack called “brute-force”. This program is run with very complex algorithms which use predominately English, Chinese, and Spanish languages. If you really want to be safe, use a combination of Afrikaans or Zulu (eg: Boerewors-Tsotsi). If you are unsure about the security of your password, visit https://password.kaspersky.com/ to test it.

Activate network encryption

Network encryption is a type of protection that scrambles the network connection so that no one can “tap” into or “listen” to it and glean important private information. It also has a special authentication key that will be required from anyone who wants to connect to the network. There are multiple encryption languages available, such as WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access), WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2) and WPA3 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 3). The most updated encryption with the best protection is the WPA3.

Turn off the wireless home network when you are not home for extended periods

This simple yet effective action shortens the window of opportunity for hackers and ensures that any attempts at access only occur when you are present, which gives a higher chance of detection and prevention of unauthorized access. It also assists in preventing damage from electrical surges when unplugged from the wall completely.

Physically place the router in a more secure area within your home

Wireless networks have an average range of between 46 and 92 meters depending on the model. The number of walls the signal needs to travel through in the house will also affect its maximum range. For maximum security, the router should be placed as close to the middle of the house as possible. This allows internet access of relatively equal signal strength throughout the house and, more importantly, will prevent the signal range from reaching too far outside of the house where it could be intercepted easily. For these reasons, the least secure positions for routers are near windows.

Make use of a firewall

A firewall is a network security system that assists in protecting the network from threats from outside the network and has both hardware and software configurations. Most routers have hardware firewalls built into them which monitors data coming in and going out and blocks suspicious activity. Computers or networks that don’t follow pre-defined rules that govern whether the data is legitimate or not, are prevented from accessing the system. While many routers have these firewalls incorporated, it is important to ensure that your model has a firewall installed and that it is enabled (it is possible to disable this feature).

Software firewalls usually run on the computer itself and are slightly more adept at identifying the network traffic passing through it. They will be able to identify which ports are being used, where the data is going, and which applications are being used. They can also block a program’s ability to send and receive data and usually have a feature of flagging programs/data so the user can decide whether they want to allow the item in question through the network or block it.

Keeping all firewall’s software updated and using them to monitor network traffic is an integral part of maintaining a secure network.

If you suspect your network has fallen prey to cybercriminals, you can enlist the help of cyber security experts The Intelligence Bureau. This privately-owned company can detect suspicious activity and give you the tools to rout them from your system.

Don’t fall victim to cyber-security in your own home. By following some simple steps, you can take control. At Find My Fibre, our fibre experts are always ready to help. Request a call back today.