Setting up Secure Home Networks

This week’s blog is adapted from the FTC’s OnGuard OnLine Blog.  In a recent post, Attorney Lisa Weintraub Schifferle from the FTC Division of Consumer and Business Education addressed the importance of making sure home networks are set up securely.  To keep it secure, Weintrabu Schifferle urges homeowners to secure the router.

Why pay attention to that little box with the flashing lights? Your router lets you connect with the internet and communicate with other devices in your home. So, it’s your first line of defense in guarding against attacks by identity thieves and hackers.

How can you make your router more secure? Start with these steps:

  • Change the name of your router.The name of your router (also called the SSID or service set identifier) is usually a default ID assigned by the manufacturer. Change it to something only you know.
  • Change your router’s pre-set passwords.Your router also usually comes with a default password. Hackers know these default passwords. So, change yours to something unique, long and complex – think at least 12 characters, with a mix of numbers, symbols and upper and lower case letters.
  • Turn off any “remote management” features. Some routers offer remote management for tech support. Don’t leave these features enabled. Hackers can use them to get into your home network.

Maintenance is also important.  Once your router is set up, don’t just stick it in a corner gathering dust. Instead, keep it up to date. Over time, the software that comes with your router may need updates. Visit the manufacturer’s website periodically to see if there’s a new version available for download. Or register your router with the manufacturer and sign up to get updates. If you lease a router, check if your internet service provider issues updates automatically.

For more on best practices for identity theft protection and on-line safety, please visit

by Judith