Router security is terrible: How to fix it

The vast majority of home routers are not secure. Security researchers believe that without a public campaign to ask users to secure routers, more than 40% of users in the United States are vulnerable to hacking and information theft.

“If a router is sold at [an electronics chain], you don’t want to buy it,” independent computer consultant Michael Horowitz said in a presentation. “If your router is given to you by your internet service provider [ISP], you don’t want to use it either, because they give away millions of them, and that makes them a prime target both for spy agencies and bad guys.”

Fortunately, improving the basic security of your router and home network is not that hard. Here are a few steps you can take before calling in a professional:

Passwords – The biggest crime is that nobody changes the default username and password on routers. The first step is to find out the username/password combination and change it. The stronger the password, the better.

SSID – Another step is to change the name of the default wireless network to something you know and set a new password. Far too often, users just use whatever came with the router.

WPA2 – We know that WPA2 is no longer as secure as it once was, but it is still better than older wireless security protocols. If the wireless network is set to something else, change it.

Update – Keep updating the firmware/software on your router. If you do not see any recent updates, then that is a cause for concern, and you should consider changing the router to a vendor that introduces regular updates.