Updated:01/17/2021 01: 25h
Without internet we are nothing. Especially in these times of pandemic (and snowfall), in which it has become, for many, the only tool that allows maintaining social contact. However, in order not to take any risks, it is important that we know well the operation of our router: that box-shaped device that allows us to connect to the network thanks to WiFi. In order for us to be able to know its operation, and to protect ourselves from any attack or attempted robbery, the National Institute of Cybersecurity (Incibe) recently shared a guide the steps users must take to turn their connection into a fortress.
«The router is the device that allows us to connect and surf the Internet. Setting it up correctly will, to a large extent, prevent someone without permission from using our network and invading our privacy and security “, they explain from Incibe in this regard. According to the institution, the first thing we must do when we acquire a new router is review your configuration to see if it is secure enough. To do this, we must take the IP address of the device and put it in the browser we want, whether it is Chrome, Safari or any other.
Know your connection
After performing the search, the user will see a screen that asks for the credentials of their router to begin the configuration. “Sometimes they are usually written by default in the router itself, other times they are usually generic, of the type user: admin / password: admin user: admin / password: 1234”, they explain from Incibe. Once entered, we will access the configuration menu, which will be divided into several sections. Although internet service providers offer their own design and menu items may vary, in general terms, they contain quite similar options and sections.
The first is “My local network», Which is where the devices that are connected to the router are listed. It is also common for this section to include those that have been in the past, so it can be verified thanks to this if a third party has been connected to the network at some point without our noticing. We can also check the network information, such as the name, password and security protocol from the “WiFi” section.
In “Information and diagnosis»We will find the status of the different functions and services of the router, such as internet, telephone, WiFi network or power. In turn, we can check the system parameters to know the data of the type of router, its serial number and other technical data. Finally, we will see an “Advanced Configuration” option, from where we will be able to access a wide variety of configurations, such as the “firewall”, which allows modifying the router’s protection level. «Once we are familiar with the different sections and sections of the interface, we can begin to make changes to our router. The possibilities are many, but we will focus on those configurations that help us increase the security of our router and the devices connected to the network “, they say from the National Institute of Cybersecurity.
From the configuration menu the user can make the necessary changes so that the device is as safe as possible. And to achieve this, it is important that, like any electronic device, it is kept updated and, in this way, remove potential vulnerabilities that have been discovered by the manufacturer. In the WiFi menu, the user will be able to find a section in which “Software update” will appear, although INCIBE explains that depending on the model the name may be different: “Once we click, we will be informed if the device is already updated to the latest version, or will provide us with an option to do so. It is advisable to enter the option from time to time to carry out this check and prevent possible breaches in the security of our internet connection.
Routers come from the factory with default passwords and names with which the user can use them. However, to avoid risks, It is important to change them as soon as we find a hole for it. To carry out the operation, and improve the security of the router, the option to change the password should be found in “Advanced configuration” and in “Administration”, which is where it is usually found. There we will be given the option to make the change. “It is essential that we use a password strong enough to protect access to the configuration interface of our router”, they explain from Incibe. Likewise, the institution recommends use between eight and ten digits; combine lower case, upper case, numbers and symbols; and perform the operation again at least twice a year.
This operation must also be carried out with the WiFi keys. To do this, we will have to go to the “WiFi” section of the configuration menu and search for “Main WiFi key”. The process that we must follow will be similar to the one we have described above. “It is likely that, after changing the password for our Wi-Fi network, the router will need to be restarted and those devices that were connected to the network, will have to reconnect by entering the new password as a security measure,” they warn from Incibe.
And the name
When we change passwords, and use new strong keys, it is more difficult for a cybercriminal to steal them through an attack and access our network and information. However, it is also advisable to give the WiFi network a new name. “The problem is that the names with which WiFi networks are usually identified for the first time have information about the Internet service provider. An attacker skilled enough could look for information on how to access the administration panel, common credentials or vulnerabilities with which to take advantage of and access the device and then carry out the modifications he wants or steal information easily “, alert from Incibe.
For this, it is important to use a random name or one that cannot be linked to us or our internet provider. Most routers also offer an added setting to hide the name of the WiFi network. This is a measure to prevent third parties from trying to connect to our network. By checking the option to hide the name, the programs to detect available networks will not show our connection.
Filter the devices that can access
One of the best security measures we can take to improve the security of our home internet is filter devices that have access. This can be achieved in the “WiFi” or “Networks” section. If we click on it, a function that allows MAC filtering will appear, which is a unique code that electronic devices include.
To know ours we must look at the operating system and the manufacturer. With a quick internet search of the device model we can find a way to access the information. For example, in the case of an iPhone, we must go to «Settings», «General» and «WiFi Address». There the MAC will appear reflected. If your “smartphone” is Android, the path will be “Settings”, “About phone” and “Status”. There are also some mobiles in which you have to go to “Settings”, “WiFi” and “Advanced settings or additional settings”.
Create a guest network
When we have guests at home, it is quite common for someone to ask for the WiFi key to connect their phone. For these cases, the safest thing is that we have a guest network enabled that is independent of the connection we use at home. In this way, we will avoid unnecessary risks in case the visitor’s device has been infected by malicious code without realizing it. “In addition, we can limit certain parameters on this network, such as bandwidth or connection time. Depending on the router model, it is possible that we can carry out additional configurations, such as limiting connection time or bandwidth ”, they explain from Incibe.
The option to create a guest network is also included in the router’s configuration menu that we have accessed from the browser. A collection may appear in the menu as “Guest Network”. Without clicking on it, we can put a password on it and, depending on the model, modify the parameters that you want.
Be careful with the kids
The Internet can be an important tool for a child’s learning, especially with Covid-19 flying overhead, but it is important to set limits. To avoid risks we can activate parental control, which allows blocking certain web pages that are not appropriate for the smallest of the house. “It even allows filtering certain words so that, if we find a website with such content, it is blocked and we do not get to access it,” they recall from Incibe.
Not all routers on the market have the parental WiFi option. If available, you can check it in the menu. There are also cases where it is possible to limit even the connection time.