Wireless security at home
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. Learn more about creating strong passwords.