The Most Important Security Settings to Change on Your Router
Your router is the first line of defense against hackers trying to access all the internet-connected devices in your home. Sadly, many of the top Wi-Fi routers are easy to hack. You should be concerned?and also make sure your router is set up properly.
We’ve talked about the basic settings you should change on your router before?and those things still hold true.
What Settings Should I Change on My Wi-Fi Router?
Dear Lifehacker, I just moved into my first apartment, and bought my first Wi-Fi router. It’s?
Change the default administrator password?and username, if possible
Change the SSID (or name of your wireless network) so your devices don’t always accept connections to similarly named networks (e.g. “linksys”) and also so you don’t give hackers more of a clue to your router model (e.g. “linksys”)
Set the wireless security mode to WPA2 and choose a good, long password for it
Hopefully, you’ve already made these security changes. Beyond those basics, though, there are more things you can do to lock down your network security in these increasingly hacked times.
Install DD-WRT or Tomato If Your Router Supports It
Besides supercharging your router with extra features, open-source router firmware DD-WRT and Tomato are likely more secure than the stock firmware that comes with your router. DD-WRT and Tomato tend not to be as susceptible to vulnerabilities found in many routers, such as the ever-popular issue with WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup). They also get updated more regularly, offer more security options (such as advanced logging or encrypting DNS with DNSCrypt), and give you more control over your hardware. Security expert Brian Krebs says:
Most stock router firmware is fairly clunky and barebones, or else includes undocumented “features” or limitations.
Normally when it comes to upgrading router firmware, I tend to steer people away from the manufacturer’s firmware toward alternative, open source alternatives, such as DD-WRT or Tomato. I have long relied on DD-WRT because it with comes with all the bells, whistles and options you could ever want in a router firmware, but it generally keeps those features turned off by default unless you switch them on.
Check the supported devices pages for DD-WRT and Tomato to see if they’ll work for you. Tomato’s more user friendly, but DD-WRT is packed with more settings.
Update Your Firmware Regularly
Regardless of whether you’re using the stock firmware or a third-party one, it’s important to keep your firmware current, because new vulnerabilities are discovered all the time (like the Linksys bug that gave remote users access to the administration console without having to log in, or the backdoor built into a few popular routers).
The actual steps to update the firmware may vary by router, but most will let you check for new firmware from the router control panel. In your browser, enter your router’s IP address, log in, and then look in the advanced settings or administration section. Alternatively, you can check your router manufacturer’s support web site to see whether new firmware is available.
Some routers also offer the ability to automatically update to the latest firmware, but you might prefer to check what the updates offer and install manually.
Turn Off Remote Administration
On many routers this is already turned off by default, but, just in case, check that remote administration (also known as remote management or enable web access from WAN) is disabled. Remote administration gives access to your router’s control panel from outside your home network?so you can see why that would be a problem. Again, this setting is probably under your advanced or administration section.