79% of American home networks are at risk of cyber attack

A survey conducted by Avast has found that 79% of Internet-connected households in the United States are at risk of getting attacked through their wireless router.

More than half of the surveyed homes had “default or common, easily hacked password combinations”, according to the antivirus software provider. A popular choice for login credentials was combinations such as admin/admin and admin/password – hardly difficult to crack.

If the above combinations weren’t bad enough, 25% of those surveyed admitted to using their address, name, phone number, street name, or other easily-guessed terms as their passwords.

What’s so bad about having an unsecure network?

I was asked the above recently by a friend I’d discovered is using the default password for his network, which is conveniently placed on the back of his router against a window.

If a user with malicious intent gets onto your network, then you may be vulnerable to man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. These attacks occur when someone is able to sit between you and the Internet, tracking your activities. For example, everything may seem normal while you’re logging into your email account, but in actual fact a rogue user has secretly directed you to a fake login page and is stealing your credentials.

What can I do to improve my Wi-Fi security?

You can improve the security of your home Wi-Fi network by doing the following three things:

  1. Change default administrator passwords (and usernames)

The most important thing to do when securing your Wi-Fi network is to change the default login credentials. It’s common for manufactures to ship products with default logins such as admin/password to make it easy for you to go through setup.

If you fail to change these logins, you’re making it easy for anyone to log into your network’s backend. You don’t want a criminal in your backend.

  1. Turn on (compatible) WPA/WEP encryption

Unless your router is from the 60s, it should offer some form of encryption. By turning encryption on, you’re essentially making it near impossible from humans to read what’s being transmitted between you and your router.

This will help protect you from attacks such as man-in-the-middle attacks.

  1. Turn on firewalls on routers and other devices

Most routers now offer an internal firewall, which should be turned on by default. If for some reason the firewall on your router has been turned off, then you must turn it on.

Don’t stop there either. Ensure that any devices that connect to your network have a firewall switched on. Ensuring there’s a firewall at each end of the connection between your device and router will significantly reduce the chance of your network being compromised.

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