WiFi router security isn’t something end users pay much attention to. Most people will change the WiFi password for their router and leave it at that. It’s up to the router to be impenetrable by the average WiFi stealer however, as an end user you can choose what security protocols your WiFi router uses to keep your password and your network safe.

Security Protocols

There are three security protocols that a WiFi router uses. It can only use one protocol at a time so you need to pick which is the safest one. The three security protocols that are used are;

  • WEP
  • WPA
  • WPA2

WEP

Wired Equivalent Privacy i.e., WEP is one of the oldest security protocols that a WiFi router can use and it isn’t a very secure one. It was used in the 1990s but other security protocols have since been developed.

You can still use WEP to protect your data but if you choose to do so, you’re not opting for the best, or most secure option. Your router’s admin panel will still list it but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should opt for it, or that it will meet basic security needs. This protocol is very easy to hack and appears to be included just because it was always there. It might be there to support older devices but in all fairness, if you have a device that is old enough to need WEP, and cannot run any of the newer, more secure protocols, you should definitely think about getting rid of it.

WPA

WiFi Protected Access i.e. WPA was what initially replaced WEP as a more secure way to keep data safe. It wasn’t perfect at the time but it is better than WEP. The whole point of developing this protocol was to overcome some of the major shortcomings of WEP until something better came along. Like WEP, you can still opt to use WPA. WPA is backwards compatible with WEP so if you have something that needs to use WEP, and you simply cannot replace it with a more secure device, try to use WPA with it.

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WPA2

WiFi Protected Access2 is the second coming of WPA and this is the intended, better, more secure protocol that eventually replaced WEP. Your router ought to have this one selected by default but if it doesn’t, you should switch to it right away. WPA2 uses military grade AES encryption and it uses the Cipher Block Chaining Message Authentication Code Protocol (CCMP). This is about as secure as your home router can get.

The setting for this can likely be found under the Security settings on your router’s dashboard.

Using WPA2

WPA2 is easily the most secure way to keep your data safe however, enabling it on your router isn’t enough. Remember that all devices connected to your router form a network and those devices must send encrypted data to the router. The router will of course encrypt it before sending it anywhere but within the network, a device must also send encrypted data or other devices will be able to intercept it.

What you basically need to know is that like your router, your PC or Mac also has a network card and it too uses a security protocol. You need to make sure that it is using WPA2.

Windows 10

On Windows 10 open File Explorer and paste the following in the location bar.

Control PanelNetwork and InternetNetwork and Sharing Center

Click your WiFi connection’s name and in the window that opens, click Wireless Properties. This will open a new window. Go to the Security tab, and under Security Type, make sure WPA2 Personal is set.

macOS

On macOS, things are far simpler. All you have to do is hold down the Option key, and click the WiFi symbol in the menu bar. It will show you what security protocol is being used. If you need to change it, forget the WiFi netwok and add it again. When adding the network, you have the option to choose ‘Security’. Select WPA2.