On WPI’s network, the Information Technology team, including the specialized Information Security Office, work together to monitor the network to keep our community safe. However, at home it’s your job to ensure that your network is secure. Using the following guide, you can greatly strengthen the security of your home network.

Tips for Securing Your Home Network

  1. Ensure that your network is password-protected. Most networks should already have this feature configured. Because of how the networking protocols are configured, a password on your network not only prevents others from joining, but also encrypts your local network traffic by using WPA2.
  2. Use a firewall on both your router and personal computer. Firewalls should exist by default on most network routers, however, you should also make sure that the firewall on your computer is enabled and functioning properly. 
  3. Update your router’s firmware. Vulnerabilities in network routers are commonly discovered and patches are provided by your router’s manufacturer. Failing to routinely update the firmware of your router can put your home network at risk.
  4. Change the name of your network (SSID). By default, the Wi-Fi networks on your router will be named after the specific manufacturer and model. Changing the name of these networks will hide this information from potential hackers who might know what exploits to use against your specific type of router.
  5. Be wary of what devices are on your network. Many Internet of Things (IoT) devices are notoriously insecure and can pose a threat to your network. Do your best to disconnect unnecessary devices when they are not in use, and consider isolating some devices to a separate network.
  6. Disable guest networks when not being used. Many routers provide a guest network. These networks should be disabled when they are not actively being used by your guests.   

Helpful Definitions

  • Network: Two or more computers connected for the purpose of sharing resources. The most common resource shared today is connection to the internet. When you connect your phone to your home's Wi-Fi, you are connecting your phone to your home network and through that, you connect to the internet.
  • Router:  The device that connects all your home computers and other devices to the internet.
  • Guest Network:  This term is related to home networking. A Guest Network enables you to share your Wi-Fi with temporary visitors, but restrict their access to just the home network.
  • WPA2: Short for Wi-Fi Protected Access 2, this is a method of securing your network designed for home users.
  • Wi-Fi: A facility allowing computers, smartphones, or other devices to connect to the internet or communicate with one another wirelessly within a specific limited area.
  • SSID (Service Set IDentifier): The name assigned to a Wi-Fi (wireless) network. All devices in the network must use this case-sensitive name up to 32 bytes long to communicate over Wi-Fi. Out of the box, wireless routers and access points have a default SSID, which may be the manufacturer's name, such as "linksys" or "netgear" or simply "default."
  • Firewall:  A system designed to prevent unauthorized access to or from a private network. You can implement a firewall in either hardware or software form, or a combination of both. Firewalls prevent unauthorized internet users from accessing private networks connected to the internet, especially intranets.
  • Bot (short for "robot"):  An automated program that runs over the internet. Some bots run automatically, while others only execute commands when they receive specific input. There are many different types of bots, but some common examples include web crawlers, chat room bots, and malicious bots.