As soon as you go online, you’re part of a network of millions of computers and other web-enabled devices – and behind them, millions of people.
Just like when you walk down a busy street, most of these people mean you no harm. In fact, they might not even notice you. However, there are still threats when you go online and share information over a connection that isn’t secure. To protect yourself from hackers and harmful computer programs such as viruses, malware and spyware, make sure you are connecting via the most secure channel you can.
Here are the key steps to secure your home Internet:
Turn on encryption – and make it WPA
WPA is the strongest home encryption available today, according to FCC.gov. The older, less secure encryption method, WEP, is not recommended. If your router is relatively new, it should support WPA2 encryption.
Change the router’s preset password and SSID (network name)
This is a relatively simple task and one that should be completed during the process of setting up your router. Under the headings “System” or sometimes “Administration,” you’ll be able to change your network password to a secure and unique password.
For the strongest security, choose a password with a combination of letters, numbers and symbols and that is at least 12 characters long.
Turn on Firewall settings
The firewall built into your router can prevent hackers on the Internet from getting access to your computer. Sometimes, routers are shipped with the Firewall protection settings turned off by default. Turn them on for the most protection.
Use caution when you visit sites or download files
Once you have your wireless network protection set up, that doesn’t mean you can click on any link or download any file you’d like without risk. Always use caution before you visit a questionable site or download a potentially damaging file.
Visiting dangerous sites or downloading corrupt files can result in your computer becoming infected with viruses, malware, spyware or other damaging programs that can ruin your computer and leak your personal information to hackers.
Use the most secure Internet service provider possible
Some Internet service providers are more secure than others. Be sure you’re getting the best option available. Information sent online is less likely to be intercepted over fiber-optic Internet. Unlike traditional copper wiring, fiber-optic cable is very difficult to tap without detection. If it’s available where you live, consider ordering a fiber-optic Internet service to increase your Internet security.