How To Check If WiFi Network Is Secure
To check the security of your network, accessing your router’s settings is very important. Most routers can be accessed by entering their IP address into a web browser’s address bar. Once you have accessed the settings, there are a few key aspects to check:
1. Check Your Wireless Security Key
When connecting to your Wi-Fi network for the first time, you are usually prompted to enter a wireless security key. This key serves as a critical barrier to unauthorized access to your network. If you have not changed it from the default settings provided by your router, you may be putting your network security at risk.
To enhance your network’s security, it is highly recommended to change the default wireless security key to a strong, unique passphrase. This passphrase should ideally be a combination of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters. Longer passphrases are generally more secure.
The wireless security key can usually be found on a label attached to your wireless router. This label might also mention the type of encryption method being used, such as WEP, WPA, or WPA2. It’s essential to use the most secure encryption method available, typically WPA3 if your router supports it. This combination of a strong security key and robust encryption helps safeguard your Wi-Fi network against unauthorized access.
2. Using Online Security Tests
Online security tests, such as F-Secure’s router testing tool, can help assess the security of your home network. F-Secure’s tool specifically checks if your router’s settings have been tampered with to facilitate DNS hijacking. DNS hijacking is a technique employed by hackers to redirect your internet traffic to malicious websites. By running this test, you can identify any vulnerabilities in your router’s settings and take appropriate action to secure your network, such as changing passwords or updating firmware.
3. Check That Your Firewall Is Functioning Correctly
A firewall is a network security system that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predefined rules. Ensuring your firewall is functioning correctly is essential for protecting your computer from potential threats. Here are detailed steps for checking your firewall:
- For Windows 10: Open the Windows Security settings by clicking on the Windows icon, then go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Security > Firewall and network protection. Ensure that all three settings (Domain network, Private network, and Public network) are turned on. If any of them are off, toggle them on.
- For Mac: Open the Security and Privacy preference in System Preferences. Click on the Firewall tab and click the lock icon to make changes. Ensure that the firewall is turned on.
How To Test Your Firewall
Testing your firewall is crucial to ensure its effectiveness. ShieldsUP by Gibson Research Corporation is a popular tool for testing firewall integrity. It offers several tests to probe your firewall for vulnerabilities and open ports. Here are the tests available:
- File-Sharing test: This test checks for vulnerable file sharing ports and services that could potentially expose your computer to unauthorized access.
- Common Ports test: This scan checks the ports commonly used by applications like FTP, Telnet, and NetBIOS to identify any potential vulnerabilities.
- All Service Ports test: This scan checks all your ports to determine if any unnecessary ports are open and vulnerable. The test provides information on open, closed, or stealth mode ports, helping you identify potential security risks.
- Messenger Spam test: This test checks if you are vulnerable to attacks carried out by spammers using Windows Messenger messages. It helps identify any weaknesses in your firewall’s ability to block unwanted communications.
How Do I Secure My Network?
The following tips will help you to use your Wi-Fi more securely and to protect your personal information.
1. Change the Wireless Network’s Default Name (SSID)
The Service Set Identifier (SSID) is like your network’s name. It’s often set to a default name that can be easily recognized. Changing it to something unique makes it harder for others to identify your router’s manufacturer and settings. Avoid using personally identifiable information, as this could compromise your privacy. Most modern devices have the option to hide your SSID from casual observers, but this isn’t a foolproof security measure.
2. Use Encryption
Encryption is a crucial part of network security. It scrambles messages sent over the network, making them unreadable to anyone trying to intercept them. If your network is not encrypted, enable it on the wireless security settings page of your router. Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) is recommended because it provides strong security. Older encryption methods like Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) and WPA have known vulnerabilities. If your wireless access point supports WPA3, it’s an even better choice, but support for WPA3 may be limited in some devices.
3. Choose a Strong Password
Changing the default password provided with your router is essential. A strong password is one that’s easy for you to remember but hard for others to guess. It should ideally include a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using easily discoverable information like your street name, as this can be guessed.
4. Disable Auto-Connect
Auto-connecting to open Wi-Fi networks can be a security risk. If your device is set to connect automatically, it might connect to unknown and potentially dangerous networks. Check your device’s settings and disable this feature to have more control over your connections.
5. Update the Router
Routers, like other devices, can have vulnerabilities that are discovered over time. Manufacturers often release updates to fix these issues. Regularly check for firmware updates for your router to enhance its security. Refer to the manual or the manufacturer’s website for guidance on keeping your router updated.
6. Secure Your Router
The way your router is set up can significantly impact your network’s security. WPA2 encryption is recommended for home users. To configure your router with WPA2:
- Log in to your router’s admin panel using a web browser and the provided IP address, username, and password.
- Find the encryption protocol settings and set it to WPA2.
- Additionally, change the default passwords, both the router admin password and the router access password, update your network’s name, and hide your network from public view.
8. Check Encryption on Public Wi-Fi
When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, check their encryption standards to ensure a secure connection. Make sure they use strong encryption to protect your data.
On Android: Go to Settings > Connections > Wi-Fi settings > select the network to view the encryption type.
On Windows: Click on the internet connection symbol > Properties > check the Security type.
On Mac: Go to System Preferences > Network > Wi-Fi > check the Security encryption type.
9. Run a Browser Disclosure Test
Use tools like ShieldsUP’s Browser Headers to verify that your browser isn’t revealing sensitive information about you and your computer. These tests can help you identify and address potential privacy issues.
10. Improve Browsing Privacy
To enhance your browser privacy, consider using browsers like Firefox along with privacy-focused extensions, such as Privacy Badger, uBlock Origin, Adblockers, uMatrix, and NoScript. These extensions help block unwanted tracking and ads while providing greater control over your browsing experience.
11. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN is a critical tool for protecting your privacy and data. It encrypts your data, securing it from eavesdropping and threats on both public and private networks. Ensure you choose a reliable VPN service with no leaks to maximize its effectiveness.
12. Check for the HTTPS Prefix
Ensure that websites you visit use HTTPS, a secure, encrypted connection. Look for the HTTPS prefix and a padlock icon in the browser’s URL bar. This ensures that your data is safe from eavesdroppers.
13. Use Active Malware Protection
Antivirus and anti-malware software helps protect your devices from malicious software, viruses, and other threats. These programs provide real-time scanning, which detects and removes potential threats. They also offer protection against malware distributed via the web, protecting your digital security.