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6 Simple Steps to Stop a Wifi Hack

August 31, 2020
Wifi routers are some of the most trusted devices in our households. We trust our routers with the majority of our personal information.  But if you’re not careful, your wifi can lead to a disastrous wifi hack.

Risks of a wifi hack

Imagine if someone broke into your wifi?  What harm could they do?

  • Hackers could steal your information, destroy it, or sell it to others 
  • They can plant malware on your device
  • Hackers can also plant illegal things or viruses on your networks if they have the access
  • War drivers, or people who drive around to connect to other wifi networks, can use your network to download all sorts of illegal content. 
  • You can be blamed for these downloads and have to face the consequences for them

The lack of protection on some routers makes them easy targets for hackers. Without proper security, hackers can breach routers and cause large amounts of destruction in our personal lives. 

There are many ways in which hackers can create issues for you through a wifi hack. With an unsecured wifi connection, hackers can place themselves between your device and the router. This allows them to access any information you may send out. For example, your credit card number, emails you send, as well as passwords for other sites. With these items a hacker can access the majority of the accounts on your device and use them however they want. Hackers also use unsecured networks to distribute malware to those on the network. Hackers send malware, such as viruses and spyware, through file-sharing on the same network. They plant these files on your computer. This allows them to steal or destroy the information on your device. Hackers can then sell your information, or use it for themselves.

More on wardriving

If you live anywhere that someone can drive to, you can get hit with wardriving. Wardriving is a simple way for hackers to gain access to your network by sitting in their car outside your house or business. If your security isn’t strong enough, they can connect to your router easily.

While this may not seem very malicious by itself, it can have dangerous consequences. If the wrong person connects to your wifi network, things can go wrong very quickly. If your router is unsecured and people are able to join it easily, it can put much of your information at risk of being stolen or destroyed through a wifi hack. Hackers can also download or upload malicious content using your network. In an article by David Ramel, he summarizes the ease with which war drivers can hack into a network. Not all war drivers will try to cause harm with these hacks, but they could cause serious damage.

Ways to prevent a wifi hack

There are six things that you should do right now to keep your devices safe from hackers. By keeping your router and network secure, you can ensure the safety of your devices from a wifi hack. 

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Change your SSID
  2. Change your passwords/ have unique passwords
  3. Update your router
  4. Change your router username
  5. Pick WPA2
  6. Firewalls, guest networks, notifications

Let’s walk through each of these in detail.  

1) Changing your SSID

Your SSID is the name of your wifi network. Having a unique SSID is important for network security as it makes it slightly harder for a hacker to crack your network encryption. Changing your SSID from the default one also shows that you have some level of technological understanding. Those who leave the SSID as the default are more likely to face a wifi hack as they are seen to have poor defenses.  Good SSID names are ones that:

  1. Don’t give away personal information
  2. Don’t relate to the network password at all
  3. Aren’t extremely common

To change your SSID you need to:

  1. Find your router’s IP address
  2. Long into its administrative console
  3. Change the SSID
  4. Update the connection for your devices

NetSpot gives a more detailed explanation on how to change your SSID. This link also has a list of 50 funny SSID names, like Bill Wi the Science Fi, or Dora the Internet Explorer.

2) Changing your network password

Changing your network password is also very important when it comes to network security. A weak wifi password can make it a lot easier for hackers to crack your network. Just as your account passwords for other sites should be unique and changed often, so should the password for your wifi network. A strong password should not include any personal information. It should also be different from the standard password the router came with. Strong passwords also tend to contain a mix of numbers, letters, and symbols. This makes it harder for hackers to crack your password and your network. This page from Business Insider has a detailed explanation on how to change your wifi password.

3) Updating your router

wifi hack of a wifi router

Updating your router can also help to protect against security threats. By keeping your router up to date, you can better protect your network from a hacker. This site has a detailed description of how to update your router.

4) Changing your router username

Changing your router’s username is another important step to take to protect your network from a wifi hack. Routers all come with a preset username and password, and if you don’t change these, hackers can easily access your network. Once again, make sure your username doesn’t include any personal information. Head to this page for an in-depth explanation of how to change your router username.

5) Choose WPA2

WPA is a security certification program. There are many programs included in this now, the more recent one being WPA2. WPA2 is the most secure version, and it is highly recommended over other programs. Choosing WPA2 can help protect your network. Switching your network over to WPA2 is not the simplest process, but the added security is well worth it. Find out how to switch your network over here.

6) Firewalls, guest networks, notifications

Certain wifi routers allow for extra security through settings such as:

  • Firewalls
  • Guest networks
  • The ability to see when others join your networks.

These add extra layers of security and should be added if possible. Firewalls should be turned on. Guest networks can be used to separate business and personal information, making it harder for hackers to get to both. Another way to separate your data is to use VPNs or RDPs. Check out this article to learn more about these systems. Being able to see who joins your network can also be very helpful. By knowing who’s on your network you can confirm that only those allowed to join have access.

Following these guidelines may seem like a lot of work, but by taking the time to update all your information, your networks will be much more secure.

Conclusion

The lack of security on many wifi networks allows hackers to easily get into systems and cause destruction. Hackers can access any of your information, as well as destroy it. They can also distribute malware throughout your devices. War drivers can also easily access vulnerable networks from their cars outside. By taking simple steps to ensure your safety, it becomes much harder for hackers to access your information through a wifi hack, let alone use it to harm you.

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