Basics of Wireless Network Security – How to Improve Home Wifi Security?

Basics of Wireless Network Security – How to Improve Home Wifi Security

Nowadays, we are all aware of wireless or Wifi networks. But most people may not be aware that wireless networks pose a very high risk of getting hacked. If proper wifi security settings are not in place then it can be unauthorizedly accessed by third parties and sometimes even lead to DoS (denial-of-service) attacks. Wireless network security covers the methods by which you can secure your Wifi network and can help you resolve the Wifi security issues. There are several issues which can compromise your Wifi network.

So, before moving to the security portion, let’s first understand the problems which can crop up related to any wireless network. After all, you just cannot implement or interpret the solutions without knowing about the underlying issues.

Wireless or wifi security problems

As we all know that the Wifi networks are not connected to the devices by cables or wires. That’s why they are also known as wireless networks. The outsiders or hackers can easily access these types of non-wired networks.

There are so many of vulnerabilities that we need to guard our Wifi or wireless network from, such as sniffing, denial of service, freeloading, impersonation, etc.

Some of these Wifi security problems are as follows –

  1. Confidentiality – The principle of confidentiality states that no other person than the sender and the receiver should be able to access the information sent over a wifi network. But this principle gets compromised when some unauthorized person intercepts or access the message.
  2. Authentication – Wireless authentication is the process in which the sender and the receiver provide the proof of their identities over the Wifi network. It the same concept that we follow while logging into some social media account where we validate our identity by using our id and passwords.
    In case of wired networks, the sender and the receiver are connected by a wire and thus can authenticate each other by their IP address. But when it comes to Wifi networks, there are no wires, and there is always a possibility that someone fabricates themselves as you and can access the network.
  3. Integrity – Integrity of a message gets lost when the delivered message is not the same as it was initially sent. Third party system or hacker can intercept the message in between and can alter it.
  4. Access Control – Access control handles which decides who will access what. But this principle of security gets compromised easily on a Wifi network, and third parties get access to the information which is sent from the sender to the receiver.
  5. Availability – Denial of service is the kind of attack which is very hard to control in the case of Wifi networks. To launch such a kind of attack on a wired network, the attacker must get physical access to the network.
    Whereas, in a Wifi network, the hacker should be within the required range of the wireless router.

Wifi network security protocols

The main aim of Wifi network security is to prevent the Wifi network from any unauthorized or third-party access. Encryption is a good option to prevent the information, being sent over the Wifi network, from getting accessed by the third parties.

There are a few commonly used standard wireless security protocols that ensure the security of the Wifi or the wireless computer networks.

  1. WEP
  2. WPA
  3. WPA2
  4. WPA3

1. WEP

WEP stands for Wired Equivalent Privacy. It is the first ever 802.11 security standard for the Wifi networks. WEP was a secure option for Wifi networks back then, but now we all know that it was not at all safe.

It can be easily hacked since it follows 24 – bit initial vector (IV). Also, it does not have a robust authentication process. It is not recommended to be used now, as it is not secure.

2. WPA

WPA means Wifi Protected Access. This standard was made to overcome the flaws in the previous WEP standard. It covered almost all the major security flaws related to WEP.

It was developed in a way to provide backward compatibility with all the WEP devices. It was not only designed for enterprise use but for the personal use as well. It has two modes as – enterprise and personal.

The enterprise mode of WPA device has even better and stronger authentication than the personal mode. But WPA is not as good as WPA2 in terms of security measures. So, it is recommended to go for WPA2 directly.

3. WPA2

It is the abbreviation of Wifi Protected Access version 2. It is the most commonly used standard as on date. It has newer and better hardware than in WPA. The advanced encryption techniques do not affect the performance of the system. This version of WPA standard also comes with variants like enterprise and personal.

4. WPA3

WPA3 means Wifi Protected Access Version 3. This is a very recently launched version for Wifi network security protocol by Wifi Alliance. WPA3 is just three months old and is way better than WPA2. Some of the highlights of WPA3 are as follows –

  • Provides better protection not only with strong passwords but also with weak passwords.
  • Can be easily connected to the devices that have no displays, such as Google Home, Amazon Echo, Boss Speakers, etc.
  • Provides excellent individual protection to the device when you are connected to some public network.
  • Can provide 192 – bit complex encryption to government and security agencies.

Secure your wifi from unauthorized access

Securing your home Wifi network can be done in many ways. Some Wifi securing methods could be –

1. Enable encryption option

Most of the routers these days comes with a WPA2 security system which offers valid encryption to your Wifi networks. So, don’t forget to enable this encryption option on your router.

2. Change default network name or SSID

It is recommended to change the default name (SSID) of the network as this can help the hackers know about the model or the brand of router you are using. After the model, it becomes even easier for them to hack your network. To change the network name, the first thing that you must do are as follows –

  • Switch on the router
  • Find your router’s IP address
  • Open the web browser
  • Enter the IP address of the router
  • Enter the password of the router (if required)
  • Select the current name of your router
  • Search for the SSID field
  • Enter the new name for your Wifi network
  • Save your new network name

3. Go for the strong password

Even the best encryption services won’t save your network from getting hacked if some decipher your wifi password. Most people go for easy and short wifi passwords for their convenience. But it can become a venerable point for your wireless network security to get compromised.

Always go for the passwords which are lengthy and a combination of uppercase alphabets, lower case alphabets, special symbols and numbers in between. To change the password, follow the following steps.

  • Access your Wifi router
  • Search for your Wifi security settings
  • Choose the encryption type
  • Go with AES algorithm for WPA2 personal version
  • Enter the passphrase and the SSID
  • Save the settings
  • Restart your router

4. Using firewalls

Firewall is available in both software and hardware variant. In the case of the router, the hardware firewall can add up a layer of security to your Wifi network. Many of the routers are available with the built-in firewall, and you just need to enable it.

But if there is no built-in firewall in your router, then install one with your router and increase the security of your Wifi network from getting hacked.

5. ‘NO’ to guest networks

Many people offer their friends to use their Wifi network through guest networks. Usually, these guest networks don’t need the encrypted password to access your Wifi network. So, it is recommended to switch off the guest networks.

6. Enable logging feature

Your router has a logging feature, which can keep the details of the login attempts from the different IP addresses. By enabling this feature, you can monitor any suspicious activities.

7. Turn the router off

Always turn off the router when you know that you are not going to use it for a more extended period or before leaving the house. This decreases any chances of becoming the target of the hackers.

8. Know the best location of your wireless router

The location of the router, in the house, can also save it from the hackers. If it is placed in the middle of the house, the router range can comfortably reach all the corners of the house. But the range would not be sufficiently strong to cater people who are outside your home.

9. Change the default IP address

For better security, change the default IP address of the router. You can know your IP address. Steps to do so are as follows –

  • Log in to the router console (as an admin)
  • Enter the username and password
  • Select network LAN (from the menu)
  • Change the IP address and save it

Over to you on wifi security

It takes a few minutes to setup your wireless router and other devices with the most optimum wifi security settings. Also, if you are using networking devices, such as a router, which follows old standards like WEP, then consider an upgrade option from various good router option available in the market.