5 Simple Steps to Set-Up a Secure Wireless Network
You just moved into your new apartment; time to unpack boxes, arrange your furniture and put everything in its proper place. It’s usually about this time that you decide to setup your Wi-Fi, after all, unpacking is a lot more fun when you can jam along to a Pandora or Spotify playlist. By now, you probably know how to set-up a wireless router. Take it out of the box, plug the cords into the appropriate port, follow the on-screen instructions and you’re up and running! If you want your network to be secure and your Internet to run at an optimal speed, however, there are certain steps you need to take. While this may take a little longer to setup your network, these easy steps will insure a secure and speedy connection. Follow these simple tips to setup a secure wireless network. Wi-Fi.
Don’t Use the Preset Network Name
Every wireless router comes with a preset factory name: Linksys001, Netgear233, etc. Most people don’t bother to change this name or Service Set Identifier (SSID). The problems is that the SSID lets everyone know what type of router you’re using. This may not seem like a big deal but what if you have neighbors who want to piggyback off your Wi-Fi signal? Not only will this make your network run slower, it could also cost you money if you only paid for a certain amount of bandwidth. Plus, if your neighbor has any hacking skills, he may be able to tap into your network and steal sensitive information.
“Changing your Wi-Fi’s name makes it harder for malicious hackers to know what type of router you have,” according to Paul Cucu from Heimdal Security. “If a cyber criminal knows the manufacturer of your router, they will know what vulnerabilities that model has and then exploit them.” Don’t setup your router with the intent to change the name later, take the extra step and change the name right away.
Change the Password
Your router also comes with a default password. Once you’ve logged in with that password, do yourself a favor and create a new one. Just like the SSID, default passwords are easy to guess or hack. Create a unique, strong password that’s at least 10 characters long and contains a mix of numbers and special characters. Try not to use common words or phrases, quotes, or anything that’s easy to guess.
Note: Follow these password recommendations for all of your online accounts. You may also want to setup two-factor authentication, which requires a code or pin to login, for any accounts with personal data (like bank or credit card information).
Depending on your router, you may or may not have to enable encryption in order to change your SSID or password. Either way, you want to tap into your router’s settings to see what type of encryption options you have and enable this security feature on your network.
There are currently three different types of encryption Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and WPA2. While WEP and WPA definitely offer some amount of protection, you want to make sure you enable WPA2 encryption. If you have an older router, WPA2 may not be an option. You can either upgrade your router or purchase a new one.
Don’t worry if you’re not tech savvy, you can call tech support to walk you through the process or follow these step-by-step directions to encrypt your wireless network.
Now that you have a safe, secure wireless network, let’s talk about how to make it run at an optimal speed. Despite what your Internet Service Provider (ISP) says about your connection, there are certain things that can hinder the speed and performances.
Put Your Router in a Central Location
Chances are you use your router for more than one device. You probably have one or more computers, cell phones, Smart TVs and other mobile devices like iPad and tablets. Your best bet is to put your router in a central location that’s not too far away from any of your connected devices.
Also, pay attention to the surfaces and objects near your router. According to Lifewire, Wi-Fi signals can bounce off reflective surfaces like window, mirrors and stainless steel counter tops, which can decrease the network range and performance. Also, try to keep your router in the open versus stored in a cabinet or next to a plaster or brick wall which can weaken the signal and performance.
Change the Channel
Did you know you can change the channel on your wireless router? When there are too many wireless devices in close proximity, like in an apartment complex, it can cause interference and hinder your router’s performance. If it seems your Internet is way too slow, try changing the channel.
Changing the channel isn’t overly complicated, but like encryption, you’ll need to access your router’s settings. If you’ve never done it before, contact your ISP, ask a tech-savvy friend or follow these directions which will show you how to find a less-crowded channel that will help your network run faster.
Setting up a fast, secure wireless network doesn’t take long and if you take these initial steps when you move in, you’ll have less to worry about later. To make sure you’ve covered all your bases, use this cheat sheet for apartment Wi-Fi networks when you setup your router.
Did this article help you get your Wi-Fi and internet set up in your apartment? Do you have any other tips? We’d love to hear it — let us know below!