a blog from CenturyLink

How to secure your home WiFi network and router

by | Feb 18, 2021


Entire households now rely on wireless internet—from smartphones and laptops to smart home devices and gaming systems. WiFi offers incredible convenience, dependability, and flexibility for everyday work and play. But it can also expose you to the ever-increasing presence of online threats and hackers. That’s why having a reliable home WiFi security network is essential.

The issue of internet safety gained new attention in September 2020. At that time, iOS users began that their WiFi networks weren’t secure. So, what can you do to ensure your WiFi is secure? Explore the basics of WiFi, potential threats to your online security, and how to secure your home internet connection in a few simple steps.

How do I make my WiFi more secure?

Intercept network threats and hacking by taking proactive steps. Here’s how to create a secure home WiFi network:

Woman with her son securing home WiFi

1. Rename your network

All your devices that broadcast a wireless connection have a network SSID (service set identifier). That’s just a fancy way of saying “network name.” These names are usually preset and generic, which makes finding and targeting them a breeze for hackers. To prevent this, change your WiFi security settings and update your network name. Get creative by choosing a unique and personalized name. But make sure your new network name doesn’t reveal your family’s identity or contain clues to your password.

To update your network name, you must first access the modem’s wireless settings by logging into your modem’s user interface and then navigating to the Wireless Settings menu.

To change your network name, go to the modem’s wireless settings. Log in to your modem’s user interface and navigate to the Wireless Settings menu. To do this on a CenturyLink router:

  1. Connect a computer or other device to the internet through WiFi or an Ethernet cable connected to your modem.
  2. Open a web browser and type into the web address field.
  3. Log in to your modem’s settings interface (Modem GUI) using your Admin Username and Password printed on the modem label. That isn’t the same as your wireless network name (SSID) and password (key).
  4. Select “Wireless Setup.”
  5. Select “Basic Settings” OR “SSID Setup.”
  6. Select the SSID you want to edit. You can find your SSID printed on your modem’s label. The first one in the drop-down list is typically the one you want.
  7. If it’s not already enabled, select “Broadcast SSID” to activate the network.
  8. Enter the desired network name. The SSID cannot contain spaces. Remember that this will be visible to others, so it shouldn’t include sensitive information or clues to your password.
  9. Select “Apply” to save your changes.

How to secure your home WiFi

2. Strong passwords

To secure your home WiFi network from prying neighbors and online hackers, turn on your router’s encryption and set a custom password. We recommend setting your security type to WPA3 if available or to WPA2, which requires every new device to enter a password to connect.

Next, create a strong password. The most robust passwords are lengthy, random combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols. Write down your wireless network password and put it in an easily accessible but secure place. You should also change your router’s default password. For optimal home WiFi security, make sure it differs from your new WiFi password.

To change your WiFi password, follow these tips:

If you have the option of 64 bits or 128 bits, follow these guidelines:

  • 64 bits: Enter 10 characters*
  • 128 bits: Enter 26 characters*

Characters can only contain letters between A-F and numbers between 0-9 with no spaces.

In all other cases, your custom password must:

  • Be between 8 and 63 characters long
  • Contain at least one number from 0 to 9
  • Contain at least one letter from A to Z
    Note: The space character can be used (but isn’t required)

Secure your home WiFi and router

3. Raise a firewall

A is a hardware or software network security system that blocks certain kinds of data from coming in or out of your wireless network. Your router likely came with one already installed, but it may be turned off by default when you set it up. You’ll sleep better at night knowing your personal data, files, financial information, and photos are secure behind your private firewall.

To set up a firewall on a CenturyLink router, follow these steps:

  1. Connect a computer or other device to the internet through WiFi or an Ethernet cable connected to your modem. Open a web browser and type into the web address field.
  2. Log in to the modem’s online user interface (Modem GUI) using your Administrator Username and Administrator Password. Unless you’ve changed the default settings, you can find this information on the modem’s sticker. Note that these are different from your wireless SSID and security key.
  3. Select “Advanced Setup.”
  4. Select “IPv6 Firewall” in the left sidebar. Note: some older modems may say “IPv4 Firewall” or “Firewall.”
  5. Enable/disable stealth mode. Don’t enable stealth mode unless you fully understand its impact.
  6. Enable the firewall.
  7. Choose to allow or block incoming and outgoing traffic on the network.
  8. Click “Apply” to save your changes.

How to secure your WiFi router at home

Wireless router connections can be set up as secure or unsecured. Secure wireless connections are protected by passwords. A router password (often called the admin password) lets you access all your router’s settings (using a special URL through your browser), while a WiFi or network password allows your devices to connect to your network. Most CenturyLink modems come set up with wireless security turned on by default. You’ll be prompted to provide the WiFi or network password when connecting your device to the wireless network. Anyone within range can connect without a password if the connection isn’t secure.

Despite built-in security features, many people leave the default settings in place on their router/modem and network. Consumer Reports found that 62% never change their router’s admin password. That information is commonly found in user manuals or is standard across brands and models, making it easy for hackers to gain access, change your settings, or lock you out of your router.

Even if you only give out your password to family members or visiting guests, you may still end up with some uninvited visitors using your WiFi. That’s why it’s critical to create a strong and unique password and change it frequently.

Father and son using home WiFi

Do you know who’s accessing your WiFi?

Outsiders could access your connection if you don’t have a secure WiFi connection. Your next-door neighbor might be “borrowing” your WiFi to stream content or surf the net. And if they’re connecting to your WiFi without permission, who knows who else may have access?

Your neighbor probably isn’t interested in your electronic files and private information. But a hacker can snag your sensitive information by using a man-in-the-middle attack, deploying tools that allow them to intercept data you’re transmitting, scan your emails for passwords, and download unlawful content. They can install spyware or viruses, skim from your bank accounts, or gain access to family photos. Even worse, you could have your identity stolen or be held responsible for any malware that originates from your network.

What else can you do to secure your home WiFi?

Keeping your connections safe and secure is a worthwhile investment of your time. Here are a few additional steps you can take to secure your home internet connection:

Taking steps to make sure your internet connection is secure doesn’t require much effort. But it can give you peace of mind knowing your network isn’t spreading malware or your private information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

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