Back to top

Encompass® Insurance Insights & Articles

How to Secure Your Home Network

Today's home networks enable us to access the internet safely and securely. Often, a wireless router acts as the gatekeeper for a range of devices – from laptops to gaming systems, smart TVs to smart phones – and stands sentry against hackers and malware.

A man on his laptop with screen displaying the word secured.

That means a compromised router places your data and private information in danger, so it's essential to protect your home network and keep your data safe.

These simple steps will help you secure your home network.

Change Your Network Name

Your router comes out of the box with a network name assigned by the manufacturer, known as a "service set identifier" or SSID.

Manufacturer-assigned SSIDs have the unfortunate side effect of making it easy for hackers to identify what type of router you have – and exploit any known weaknesses. Most routers allow you to change the SSID from the manufacturer's website.

When choosing a name, avoid using words or phrases that might reveal where the network is housed. For instance, names like "Robert Smith's Home Network" may lead to identity theft. Instead, pick a name that doesn't offer personal details.

Choose a Complex Password

Routers often come with preset passwords; you should change the manufacturer-assigned password right away. Best practices call for a password that contains:

  • At least 12 to 20 characters
  • A mix of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols

Many people (understandably) fear they'll forget a long string of random characters. This leads them to choose too-simple passwords that are easy to hack. The Cyber Security Alliance offers a solution: Use a positive phrase that you'll remember, such as "ILoveReggaeMusic" or "SpotIsTheBestDog".

Keep Your Software Updated

Updates often fix security issues, adding extra protection when exploits are uncovered. Newer routers may update software – known as "firmware" – automatically.

But it doesn't hurt to manually check to make sure firmware is up to date. While each router is different, you should be able to easily check for updates on the manufacturer's website.

Even if you have to download new firmware, it's worth taking this extra step to protect your data.

Reduce Access

Once you've set up your router with a new name and a secure password, be sure to log out as an administrator. If you remain logged in, bad actors may be able to hijack your session and get into your network.

Some routers may allow remote access to your router. For instance, there may be an option for the manufacturer to provide technical support from a remote location. While this may sound convenient, it can also allow hackers entry, says the Federal Trade Commission.

Another feature to watch out for? Universal plug and play. While this feature may make it easier for your smart TV or receiver to connect to the internet, it also makes it easier for malware to get in.

Finally, if you're going to be away from home for an extended period of time, disable your network. If you're not there to use it, there's no need to make it easier for cybercriminals to access your information.

Following these simple tips can help ensure that your home network stays secure. By using hard-to-crack passwords, keeping firmware updated, and limiting access, you'll help protect your information.

A group of Encompass agents

Customer Centric. Agent Focused.

Our simple, tailored approach to coverage offers powerful benefits to you and your clients.

Become an Agent

The general information contained in The Encompass Blog is provided as a courtesy, and is for informational and entertainment purposes only. The contents of this website are subject to periodic change without notice. Information provided on The Encompass Blog is not intended to replace official sources. Although attempts will be made to ensure that the information is accurate and timely, the information is presented "as is" and without warranties. Information contained on The Encompass Blog should not be mistaken for professional advice. Information contained herein should not be considered error-free and should not be used as the exclusive basis for decision-making. Use of website information is strictly voluntary and at the user's sole risk. We encourage you to obtain personal advice from qualified professionals when making decision regarding your specific situation.

Other resources linked from these pages are maintained by independent providers. The Encompass Blog does not monitor all linked resources and cannot guarantee their accuracy. Statements, views and opinions included in an independent provider's material are strictly those of the author(s). These views may not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of The Encompass Blog, the Encompass family of companies or its agents, officers or employees.

ECC Monitor: OK