Extra security steps
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Secure your home network

Securing your router protects your home network against unauthorised access or attack.

How it works

When we talk about routers, we’re actually talking about more than one thing. Your home wireless network is made up of three different parts:

  • The modem – the bridge between your home network and the internet.
  • The router – what connects all the devices on your home network, and sends traffic in and out.
  • Access points – these allow your devices to connect to the network wirelessly.

The device that your internet service provider (ISP) gives you when you sign up is all these things in one. Your ISP probably calls it a modem, but most of us refer to it as a router.

Why it matters

Everything that comes in and goes out of your home wireless network goes through your router.

It's important to secure your router so people can’t access your home network without your knowledge — or use your WiFi for free.

The risks

If you don't take steps to protect your router, you leave your home network open to attack. Someone could gain access to your network or your devices. An attacker could also use your devices as part of a denial-of-service attack, where many computers are joined together to attack someone else. If this happened, it's unlikely that you'd even know about it.

How to protect yourself

  • Change the default login details for your router

    The best place to start is by changing the default login details on your . These login details give you admin access to the router, and let you define:

    • what data can pass through it, and
    • what devices have permission to send and receive that data.

    If you don't update your router's default login details, you leave it open to attack.

    When you buy a router (or are sent one by your internet service provider), it will come with default login details that are set by the manufacturer. Often, all devices of the same model will have the same default username and password. The username might be something like 'admin', and the password might be 'password'.

    If your router didn't come with details of what the default login details are, or you don't know what they are, you can find a list of default passwords for most routers on the internet.

    Change the default username and password by logging in to your router online. Change both the username and password to something more secure, and don't share them with anyone.

    Logging in to your router

    Each router comes with its own — it's like your router's URL. It's usually just a string of numbers, like You might find this number on the router, by looking up the model online, or in information provided by your internet service provider (ISP). You can:

    • type this into your browser's address bar
    • log in with the default username and password
    • change the default login details once you're logged in.
  • Change the name of your home wireless network

    Your home name is also known as the service set identifier (SSID) name – it's what you see when you go to connect to .

    Your router comes with a network name set by the manufacturer. It's often based on the manufacturer and model name, and this can make it vulnerable to attack. If an attacker knows what make and model your router is, they'll also know if it has any vulnerabilities – which the attacker could use to access the network without your knowledge.

    It's important to change the network name as soon as you can. You'll need to log in to your router to update it.

    Make sure the name you choose doesn't include any personal information. For example, don't include your name or home address as part of the network name. That way, no one can see that it belongs to you.

  • Set a password for your home wireless network

    While you're updating the name for your home network, set up a new password for it too. Make sure the password is long, strong, and unique — or use a , which might be easier to remember.

    Keep your WiFi password private. It should only be you and your family (or anyone else who lives with you) who know it. You may need to share it with guests from time to time, but the fewer people who know it, the better.

    How to create good passwords

  • Use WPA2 or later for wireless security

    When you update the login details for your router and your home network, check to see if you need to update your wireless security settings too. You can protect your network by setting , or a later version if possible, as your default security setting.

    WPA2 stands for WiFi Protected Access 2. It:

    • protects the traffic going between your devices and your router
    • helps you control who (and what devices) can access your network – the only people who can access it are those you share the network password with.

    When you turn WPA2 encryption on, no one outside your home network will be able to:

    • gain access to the network, or the devices on it, without your knowledge
    • use your WiFi data.
  • Keep your router up-to-date

    Updating your router with any software updates that become available is one of best ways to prevent an attack on your home network. Software updates often fix security vulnerabilities in operating systems or apps that attackers could find and use to gain access to your network.

    If you’re using a router given to you by your ISP, ask them what they do to keep it secure. Some ISPs provide security support by managing your router remotely. They'll patch it if they need to, or will close ports that could be abused by attackers.

    If you use a router that you bought yourself, make sure you keep up-to-date with any security updates. If your router is old and doesn’t get updates anymore, you could consider:

    • investing in a newer model, or
    • talking to your ISP to see what routers they provide.
  • Enable a firewall

    A provides security by monitoring the traffic that goes in and out of your home network through your router. It:

    • stops insecure or unwanted traffic entering the network
    • allows legitimate traffic to flow in and out freely.

    Most routers come with a firewall that has preset rules for how it will manage your traffic. Enabling it will help stop attackers connecting to, or attacking, your router from the internet.

    It’s important to make sure that no one can access your router (or your admin account) from outside your home network. It should only be accessible from inside your network, through the router's IP address.

  • Create a guest WiFi network for your smart devices

    The Internet of Things (IoT) is just another name for smart devices – anything that has built-in technology that means it can connect to the internet.

    Most WiFi routers can provide a 'guest' network that can be used to keep your laptop and mobile phone away from other devices you can’t control. Keeping your IoT devices on this guest network ensures that if they're compromised, your laptop and phone stay safe.

    Using the Internet of Things