Securing your home network: Simple steps you can take to protect your family online

Hackers grab the headlines constantly these days — usually for corporate ransoms and massive data leaks — but beneath these high-profile cases, other cybercriminals are targeting people like you: users on a home network. They can steal your information, log-in details and web history, knowing your network is much easier to breach than any company gates.

Often, hackers do this by trying to break your router’s password or hijacking your Domain Name Server (DNS), rerouting your traffic to a website they’re running. And since this is done insidiously, you probably won’t know they’re even doing it. We strongly recommend adding more protections to your home network, so you’re much safer from these smaller, widespread attacks on your data and privacy.

Follow our steps toward better domestic network security. They can’t guarantee your safety, but they’re an excellent guard against all but the most sophisticated hacking attempts.

Securing your home network

Step 1: Create a more random network password

Many families adjust their password so it’s memorable for children and adults. However, you should keep it complex. Using the name of a pet dog or even your address with a couple of numbers tagged on isn’t sufficient; hackers can crack this code with information they already have on you. Opt instead for a password that’s over 20 characters long and has a mix of numbers, letters and symbols.

Step 2: Change your home Wi-Fi’s name

Every home network has a Service Set Identifier (SSI) that shows up as a name for devices to connect to (which you’ll see on a list of available Wi-Fi options). Like your password, this shouldn’t reveal anything about you or your property. Keep it vague and convoluted. Remove the name of your network provider too, which makes it tougher for a hacker to adapt their techniques based on known protections.

Step 3: Check or turn on encryption

Adapting your login credentials is all well and good, but there’s another layer of security around connectivity verification — your Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) controls. Essentially, there are two versions of encryption to stop criminals revealing your password from afar. The first, basic setting is just WPA. It’s probably the default when you set the home router up. However, there should be an option for WPA2 encryption, which is much more advanced. Here’s a quick guide for finding your router IP and changing WPA settings.

Step 4: Turn off SSID broadcasting

Businesses that offer Wi-Fi to their clients or customers need to show the network on any device nearby. You don’t, though. Switch off automatic SSID broadcasting by typing your router’s IP address into a browser’s search bar, which takes you to the main administrator settings. Log in with your router’s name and password. From there, look for an option that says Closed Network. Click the drop-down and hit Enabled. If you want to connect with a new device or let guests use your Wi-Fi, use the SSID name and password in Control Panel > Network And Sharing Center > Manually Connect To A Wireless Network (for Windows systems).

Step 5: Update your router’s firmware

This is the software that runs your router directly, helping it manage security permissions and traffic routing protocols. Like any piece of digital kit, without an update it can become outdated and weak, leaving gaps for hackers to exploit. Try to maintain a monthly firmware update schedule. Some providers do it for you automatically, but if you want to be doubly sure, visit the manufacturer’s website and download the latest firmware patch.

Now you’re up to speed with basic hacker prevention, it’s time to think about higher walls for your home network. Our range of premium firewalls, tune-ups and mobile security tools are just what you need for safe connectivity. Browse Total Defense products or reach out for specific advice for you and your family.