1. Routinely update the firmware
Even though a router lacks moving parts, it needs to be maintained with the latest security updates. Easier said than done, right? Here is a basic step-by-step for how to do that:
- Consult the instruction manual for your router to get its IP address—a string of numbers that you will punch into a web browser for access to the router’s web dashboard. Jot down the number and store it somewhere safe like your filing cabinet.
- After entering the router’s IP address into a web browser, log in to the base station with your username and password. In the router’s web dashboard, click on the firmware settings. Look for a button that lets you check for the latest firmware version.
- If an update is available, choose to install it and let the router restart. Repeat this process every three to six months.
- Call customer service at 360.898.2481 and ask whether your equipment has been updated with the latest firmware.
2. Set a unique username and password
Usernames and passwords like “admin” and “password” are not unique, and are easy for hackers to guess. Many wifi stations come with generic passwords by default that manufacturers intend for you to change.
The problem with having a generic username and password is that anybody within range of your router could log in to it and change its settings, potentially opening it up to the outside world.
So while you are checking for firmware updates in your router’s web dashboard, make sure to also check your security settings and change the username and password to something strong and unique. Security experts recommend creating long, complex passwords consisting of nonsensical phrases and added numbers and special characters. (Examples: My fav0rite numb3r is Gr33n4782# or The cat ate the C0TT0n candy 224%.) Write down these credentials on the same piece of paper where you recorded your IP address.
3. Replace your router every few years
Even if your router still appears to work properly, the device has reached the end of its life when manufacturers stop supporting it with firmware updates, leaving it vulnerable to future cyberthreats. You can expect this to happen every three to five years. At that point, it is crucial to upgrade to a new piece of hardware.
The best way to check is to look up your router on the manufacturer’s website and read notes about its firmware releases, or call customer service at 360.898.2481. If there hasn’t been a firmware update in the last year, the router has probably been discontinued.
This excerpt appears courtesy of The New York Times. Read the full article here.