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Posted on January 13, 2016 by in Identity & Privacy, Personal

One of the top ways to prevent identity theft is by being cautious with public Wi-Fi. After all, these connections can often be insecure and easily hijacked by thieves. We’ve advised waiting until you’re home to access banking and credit card information — but what if your home connection isn’t secure either?

Given how much of your personal information could be at stake, home Wi-Fi security is crucial. Taking steps to implement greater security measures now, and to make updates when needed, can help ensure you and your family are the only ones on your network.

Here are 5 tips that you can use to boost your home Wi-Fi security:

  1. Update your wireless router.

If your Wi-Fi router has been working fine for years, you may not think it needs to be refreshed. But older equipment can be less secure, with fewer encryption controls and security settings. For instance, all new routers feature a robust encryption method called WPA2. The same can’t be said for some older wireless devices.

  1. Change passwords.

Many routers come preconfigured with a default password that would be easy to guess, like “password” or “1234,” which are both on the list of the worst passwords you can have. When setting up a new router, be sure to change the administrative password, which is usually found in the “System” or “Administrator” area of your router’s settings. If you already have a newer router, you should still go into the settings to change your password. Much like regularly updating passwords for web and email access, refreshing your password for a router can enhance the security of your home Wi-Fi network.

  1. Turn off guest access.

Unless you’re running a bed & breakfast, you likely won’t have a need to allow multiple visitors to use your Wi-Fi network at the same time. Guest networking tends to have fewer security controls, which means unwanted network visitors may use this open door to circumvent your home Wi-Fi security measures. Close it up by turning off this option, which usually involves simply checking off a box in the router’s interface.

  1. Hide your network.

The default setting for many routers is to “broadcast” your network name, also called an SSID. That means your network will show up in a list of available networks in the area. But this can give hackers a better chance of finding your access point and breaking in. For better home Wi-Fi security, consider disabling SSID broadcasting by changing the settings on your router software. This will hide your network name so that it doesn’t automatically come up when people attempt to locate nearby Wi-Fi networks.

  1. Place the router appropriately.

For maximum home Wi-Fi security, a router should be set up in the center of your home. That way, you’ll get a wireless connection to all rooms but limit the wireless signal range outside your house. Placing a router by an outside wall or too close to a window, for example, could extend that signal into neighboring properties and make it easier for others to access the signal.

By taking some time to improve home Wi-Fi security, you can get the protection you need to help keep out snoopy neighbors and potential identity thieves.