How to secure your WiFi (and why you should)

by | Dec 10, 2021

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It may feel inconvenient to have to get a password every time you want to use the WiFi at your friend’s house or at a coffee shop. But WiFi passwords are magical things. They help keep out the monsters (hackers and malware) and protect the important stuff (your information and identity). Learning how to secure WiFi isn’t difficult, but it is increasingly important as our world becomes ever more connected.

First, what does it mean to secure my WiFi?

Simply put, a secured WiFi network means that it is password protected. You may have encountered unsecured WiFi at airports, libraries, or other public spaces. That’s the type of WiFi you don’t need a password to connect to. But while unsecured WiFi is convenient, it’s not exactly safe.

Cybercriminals have a few methods they can use to steal data over an unsecured WiFi connection. They can use a man-in-the-middle attack, for example, that allows them to intercept data and see what you’re doing online. If you decide to log in to your bank account, make a purchase, or check medical records online, your data could be intercepted. A cybercriminal may also route you to a site that downloads malware on your device.

Doesn’t my WiFi already come with a password?

We take our customers’ safety seriously, so we turn wireless security on by default. That means when you connect to your Quantum Fiber wireless internet for the first time, you’ll be prompted to enter a password. So, if your WiFi is already password-protected, it’s secure, right? Well, yes and no.

Default login information is usually pretty accessible for a reason. That makes it easy to guess and also opens your network up to a few less-than-ideal scenarios. At best, your neighbors log on to your network and eat up your bandwidth. At worst, your network gets hijacked, and a cybercriminal takes it over. That hacker can intercept your data, use your network to download illegal content or distribute spam, and even steal your identity.

The following six steps can help prevent these types of cyberattacks and keep your personal and financial information more secure.

How to secure WiFi

To implement each of the six steps to secure your WiFi, you first have to access the administrative settings on your modem. Here’s how:

1. While connected to your home WiFi network, open a web browser and type into the URL field. This will bring you to your modem settings portal.
2. Log in to your secure portal using your admin username and password. These are printed on the sticker that usually comes affixed to the bottom or side of your modem.

Step 1: Change your WiFi network name and password

As you go to connect a device to your network, you’ll probably see a list of networks in your area. These networks are usually arranged according to signal strength, so yours should be near the top. Keep in mind that your default network name is generic and usually made up of numbers and letters. Check the sticker on the bottom of your modem to find this information, along with your default network (wireless) password. You can also find the network name by logging into your modem’s settings online.

Choose a personalized name for your network but be careful not to include anything that reveals your identity or provides a clue to your password. Next, it’s time to create a strong password. It’s best to use a combo of letters, numbers, and symbols. Don’t worry about memorizing this password—you can use a sticky note to attach it to your router, or save it in a secure password keeper. Plan on changing your WiFi password on a regular basis to keep your network secure.

To change your WiFi password, you need to access your modem’s wireless settings. You can do this by logging into the app or your modem’s user interface.

How to change your WiFi network name and password on a Quantum Fiber modem:

1. First, access the administrative settings following the steps above.
2. Select the Wireless Setup icon in the main menu.
3. Next, choose “Basic Settings” OR “SSID Setup.”
4. Select the SSID you want to edit. You can find your SSID printed on your modem’s label. Typically, the first one in the drop-down list is the one you want.
5. If it’s not already enabled, select “Broadcast SSID” to activate the network.
6. Enter the new network name that you choose. The SSID cannot contain spaces.
7. Select “Apply” to save your changes.

Tip: If you ever forget your WiFi password, you can reset your modem to factory settings and then use the default network name and password again. This will also reset any other custom settings you have created, just as an FYI.

A man uses his smartphone to change his router administrative settings to secure his WiFi.

Step 2: Change your router administrator password

Your router helps you control the traffic on your internet connection, and it also comes with a default administrative password, as used above to log in and change the WiFi password. These credentials can also be found on the sticker that came with your modem.

You can use your router settings to set up parental controls, block certain websites, create a schedule for when your network is active, and more. If a hacker gains access to your settings, they can take control of your network. They may even be able to lock you out of your own WiFi.

Just like your network name and password, your router’s login information comes preset, which makes it easier to guess and use. Once you get your network name and password set up, take steps to prevent your router from getting hacked.

How to change the administrative username and password on your Quantum Fiber router:

1. First, access the administrative settings following the steps above.
2. Select the Advanced Setup icon in the main menu.
3. Select “Administrator Password” under the Security section in the left sidebar.

    • Follow the steps to edit the Administrator Password.
    • Select “Enable” to make sure the password is active.
    • Enter your chosen admin username and password. Type the password in a second time to confirm.
    • Click “Apply” to save your changes.

Step 3: Encrypt your data

Encrypting your data is an added layer of protection you can use to secure your WiFi. Basically, if your information does get intercepted by a cybercriminal, they’ll need a decryption key to read it.

There are a few different types of WiFi security methods, including WPA2 and WPA3. These security methods are easy to set up and offer strong encryption for your WiFi signal.

How to set up WPA2:

1. First, access the administrative settings following the steps above.
2. Once logged in, select the Wireless Setup icon from the main menu.
3. Depending on your model of modem, you will find the encryption settings in either “Basic Wireless Setup” or the “Wireless Security” section.
4. Select “WPA2 – Personal” from the dropdown menu for Security Type.
5. Select “Apply” to save your changes.

Step 4: Create a guest network

When you have friends or family over, and they ask for your WiFi password, you can give them access to a guest network. A guest network adds an extra layer of protection and protects your main home network. If your guests bring viruses with them on their devices or experience a cyberattack in your home, your personal network won’t be impacted.

How to set up a guest network:

1. First, access the administrative settings following the steps above.
2. Once logged in, select the Wireless Setup icon from the menu.
3. Select “Guest Wireless Setup” in the left sidebar menu.
4. Under step 1, select “Enable.”
5. Under steps 2-3, enter a name for your guest network. Tip: No spaces can be included in the network name. Then set the security type (for most users, you will want to choose “WPA2 – Personal”).
6. Under step 4, you can choose to use the default password, or to set your own custom password (recommended). Finally, select “Broadcast SSID” under step 5 to make the new network visible.
7. Select “Apply” to save your changes.
8. After following the steps above, while still logged into the router’s Wireless Setup menu, select “Wireless Security” in the left sidebar.
9. From the SSID drop-down list, select the name of the new network that you just created in the previous section.
10. Set the security type. Most will select WPA2.
11. On the same screen, you can type in your custom password. Be sure to choose a different password from your primary network.
12. Select “Apply” to save your changes.

To keep your guest network secure, take the same care creating a network name and password as you did with your main network. You can also create a guest network as a secondary network to connect all your smart home devices, for an added layer of security.

Step 5: Raise a firewall

To block certain types of data from entering or leaving your wireless network, raise a firewall.

How to raise a firewall:

1. First, access the administrative settings following the steps above.
2. Select “Advanced Setup.”
3. Select “IPv6 Firewall” in the left sidebar. Note: some older modems may only show “IPv4 Firewall” or simply “Firewall.”
4. Enable/Disable stealth mode. Do not enable stealth mode unless you fully understand the impact.
5. Enable the firewall.
6. Choose to allow/block incoming and outgoing traffic on the network.
7. Click “Apply” to save your changes.

A young woman goes through the steps to secure her WiFi on her laptop.

Step 6: Keep your firmware up to date

Your modem comes with firmware, and it’s important to keep it updated to patch vulnerabilities. It will also help your modem perform optimally. Your firmware will likely update automatically. If you have any concerns about your modem’s performance or want to make sure that it’s running the latest update, you can check the status manually in your administrative settings.

How to update firmware:

1. First, access the administrative settings following the steps above.
2. Select the Utilities icon in the main menu.
3. Select “Upgrade Firmware” in the left sidebar.
4. Check the “Upgrade Status” area.

    • If it says Upgrade Firmware, proceed to step 7 to continue the update.
    • If it says Firmware is up to date or N/A, you don’t need to update. You’re all done! You can log out and close the modem settings page.

5. Select “Download.”
6. Next, choose the drop-down next to “Save” and select “Save as.”
7. Select “Desktop” (or choose another folder if you prefer), then click “Save.” The downloaded firmware file is now saved on your computer.
8. Next, to install the file you just saved in the previous step, select “Browse” on the Upgrade Firmware screen.
9. Navigate to the folder location on your computer where you saved the file in step 9. Select the firmware file, then click “Open.”
10. Select “Upgrade Firmware” to start the update.
11. The screen will show you the progress of the upgrade installation. This step will take about 2 minutes.
12. Next, you’ll see a screen telling you that the modem is rebooting. This step will take about 3 minutes.
13. Once the upgrade is complete, you will be taken back to the main “Modem GUI Login” screen. Wait 2-5 minutes for the DSL and internet lights on the modem to turn green before trying to browse to a webpage to test that your connection is good.

Last words

Now that you know how to secure your WiFi network, you can keep your information safe, prevent the spread of malware from your network, and practice good cybersecurity. For more on optimizing your internet connection and managing cybersecurity, check out the following articles:

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