Updated December 20, 2017
Think of a Wi-Fi router like you would the front door of your home. If a thief can break through there, they'll have easier access to your devices. Here's how to stop them.
Your router broadcasts a Wi-Fi signal to all your devices that can pick up the connection, without a wire or cable. Alternatively, your modem translates information over your phone or cable system so it can be understood by your computer. Routers have a firewall, a protective barricade, between you and the Internet, for added security. We'll walk you through the steps on setting up your touter, and the details on locking away access.
Step One: To install the router, first plug it into the wall, run its ethernet cable to your computer, click on your web browser and type the router's IP address into the web browser address line. This number, found on the router itself, consists of three digits, a period, three more digits, a period, one digit and a period and then one digit more. For example 192.168.1.1
Step Two: Our Netgear system then asked us to upgrade its firmware with the prompt “A router firmware upgrade is available." It's always a good idea to update your devices when prompted to do so. We did.
Step Three: Any router will then most likely ask you for a password. The first time you log in you need to use the factory password. But after that change that password! Until you do, it will be the same as the user name: “admin."
Step Four: Here's where you start securing your router. To change the password, click on the tab that says “ADVANCED" and then, on the drop down menu, select “Set Password." Select a password with many letters, numbers and symbols that avoids references to your name or the name of your children, pets or partner. Remember, we want to stop the thieves, not challenge their intuition. Click “Apply." Select two questions for password recovery.
Step Five: Now you're at the main set up screen, and well on your way to secure your router. On the side menu click on the word “Wireless." Now you can define your basic settings. Looking at the main page under region, select an appropriate location. Next, under “Wireless Network 2.4GHz b/g/n) check the box that says “Enable SSID Broadcast." This will enable the operator of a laptop or other device in the area to be able to identify the WiFi signal your specific router is broadcasting. (SSID stands for Service Set Identifier.)
Step Six: Next, change the name of your wireless router to something other than the brand name, which, in our case, was NETGEAR81 No reason to give thieves a clue to what type of model of a front door they are trying to unlock. Changing the name will also prevent your devices from linking to similarly branded routers.
Step Seven: Looking at the line for Wireless SSID Broadcast, along the column that reads “Mode:" click on the options available in the drop-down menu so you can assign your router the number #1. If you happen to have two routers in the house, make sure their numerical assignations or channels are as far away from one another on the numerical scale as possible, so they don't overlap each other's spread. For example, if you have one numbered #1, number the other one #11, the highest number on the scale.
Step Eight: The subgroup “Wireless Security" will then ask you to select a type of encryption. A number of selections will appear on your screen. For “Security Options" a secure mode to chose is WPA2-PSK [AES]. AES stands for Advanced Encryption Standard, which is the current standard. TKIP or Temporal Key Integrity Protocol, is an older version. (A good tip is to always select the most current standard.)
Step Nine: Just click the green “Apply" button in the center of the screen and you're done.