Setting Up Your Wireless Network
Home wireless has changed significantly in recent years, while becoming more important for home use. Pervasive Wi-Fi coverage is needed to power not just computers and phones but dozens of wireless devices including televisions, streaming services, gaming systems and IoT devices. For strong, secure Wi-Fi, the best solution will depend on the size of your house as well as number and types of devices. A decision on which Wi-Fi router to purchase should be based on performance, range, and overall value of the system.
There are two basic types of Wi-Fi systems: standalone routers (good for smaller spaces) and mesh networking kits, which are better for large or multi-floor homes. For both, consider these criteria when making a decision:
- Have you bought a router in the last 3 or 4 years? If not, now is the time to do so.
- Do you have a single-story house or apartment? If so, consider a stand-alone router.
- Do you have a multi-story or large house? If so, consider a mesh networking kit.
- Ensure that the router has support for the latest Wi-Fi standards (Wi-Fi 6, or 802.11ac and WPA3).
- Ensure that the router administrative interface meets your needs. Older routers require login via a web browser, while newer versions allow you to install and manage the Wi-Fi router from an app on your phone or tablet.
Check the following sites for further recommendations, including well-reviewed brands to consider:
Mesh networking kits are recommended for large homes or old apartments or houses with plaster, brick, or concrete walls. Instead of using a single router, they provide broader coverage using multiple access points spread around a house to improve Wi-Fi range and performance. Read these recommendations for mesh networking kits: https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-wi-fi-mesh-networking-kits/
Once you have installed your new Wi-Fi router, consider these best practices for improving the security of your home wireless network:
- Set the encryption level to the most recent secure type available on your wireless hardware (currently Wi-Fi 6, or 802.11 AC with WPA3 security). WPA3 is the latest version of Wi-Fi Protected Access, a suite of protocols and technologies that provide authentication and encryption for Wi-Fi networks. Read more about Wi-Fi 6, new Wi-Fi names and the difference between WPA2 and WPA3.
- Use an inconspicuous network name (SSID). The network name you choose should not give away any personal information.
- Change the default administrator password for your router. The admin account is what allows you to configure the settings for your wireless network.
- Ensure that the password used to connect to your wireless network is strong and that it is different from the admin password.
Using IoT Devices
Make sure the Internet of Things (IoT) isn't a route for hackers to get into your home!
The increasing number of Internet-connected devices in homes and businesses present a new security risk. Follow these guidelines to secure IoT devices:
- Always change weak default/generic passwords.
- Always update with security patches when available. Fill out the warranty card in case of device recall or vendor communication.
- Set up a firewall. Disable all unused ports and services on IoT devices.
- Disable Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) on routers unless absolutely necessary.
*Note: If you want to use an IoT device on the Duke network, please register the device on https://dukereg.duke.edu/ or CMDB. For multiple devices, consider network segmentation (VRFs). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.