What Do You Need for a Secure Internet? (Hint: VPNs aren’t enough)

What Do You Need for a Secure Internet? (Hint: VPNs aren’t enough)

Everyone is concerned about their security nowadays. Big Data breaches, IoT hacks, and ransomware attacks happen every day. There is a solution for increasing your privacy and security, but most people don’t know about it. VPNs are incredibly useful, but they are not enough to keep you secure. It is good to know what additional steps you can take to protect yourself online.

Enable MAC Address Filtering

Most modern Wi-Fi routers allow users to restrict device access by their MAC addresses. It is known as MAC address filtering. MAC stands for Media Access Controller used to identify devices on a network. MAC addresses are unique to every physical device. MAC address filtering can be a powerful tool to keep yourself safe online as it can hard block access to third parties trying to connect through unknown devices.

Thus it can prevent hackers from entering a Wi-Fi network even if they know the password. You need to open the Wi-Fi menu and scroll down till you see the Mac Address Filtering option. Open it and manually enter the MAC addresses of each device you use to connect to the internet, i.e., your TV, phone, laptop, etc. The MAC addresses will now get whitelisted and allowed on your network, whereas the rest of the devices will get automatically blocked.

Enable Wi-Fi Encryption

Every modern Wi-Fi router has built-in data encryption algorithms that prevent hackers from cracking its password. One of the first things you should do when setting up your router is to enable the encryption setting, which might sound challenging but only takes a few minutes.

  • Navigate to your router’s settings
  • Go to security options
  • Search for WPA2 personal setting. If you don’t manage to find it, you’re using an old router that is more susceptible to hacks. In this case, you can select WPA personal instead.
  • Set the encryption key setting to AESNow and set a strong password that will be different from the router’s default password key.

WPA2 is a more secure algorithm since it is newer and more advanced than WPA. The older WPA technology is more prone to brute force attacks in which hackers use the computational power of their computers to guess passwords.

Speaking of Wi-Fi, you should also turn off WPS or a Wi-Fi-protected setup setting. It offers convenient setup parameters to quickly connect your home devices and smart gadgets to the network. The setting is useful as it saves time, especially if you own a lot of smart home devices, but that can make it easier for hackers to gain access to your network. Think of it as an auto-connect option.

Rename Your Router

All modern routers come with a preassigned username and password. The username and password are generic and easy to guess. They usually have the same name as the router brand. It makes it easier for hackers to infiltrate private networks by simply guessing the password, especially if the admin settings get left at default.

Immediately change the admin username and password, and then change the router’s username and password. Once you change the username and password of your router, you should also change the Wi-Fi network name.

This name is available to everyone in the router’s range and is usually the same as the router’s brand name. It makes it easier for nefarious actors to guess the admin login info since most routers of the same manufacturer have similar passwords. It is known as the SSID (service set identifier), and it’s the name that other users will see when scanning for nearby Wi-Fi networks.

Change the SSID immediately to make it harder for hackers to infiltrate your private network. Keep in mind that when you change the SSID or router password, all devices will get disconnected, and users will have to enter the new password to reconnect.

Install a Firewall

A firewall safeguards your network and all devices from external threats on the Internet by analyzing the data packets passing through. Firewalls act as guards as they block access to networks from devices on the internet, while also allowing devices on networks to connect to other devices found on the internet.

Most routers come preinstalled with a standard firewall. But to ensure the utmost protection of your network, you should install a reliable home firewall solution on your system to prevent router attacks. Use firewalls in conjunction with an antivirus.

While firewalls protect against threats found on the Internet, an antivirus protects against threats that have found their way into the system. These threats can include malware, spyware, Trojans, or viruses. Some spyware programs can bypass firewalls, so an antivirus becomes the last line of defense.

An example of an app that could bypass antivirus is Xnspy. The app gets installed on the device and doesn’t show up in the app tray or list of running apps. So it can be difficult to detect spy apps including XNSPY.

For more details on how to track internet history on the cell phone, you can visit Xnspy’s official website.

Thus to completely remove an app to track internet history from a user’s phone, an antivirus gets used. It will detect the spy app as a foreign entity and remove it from the system. And as a safety measure, it is recommended you factory reset your device and backup all your crucial data and files.

Disable Remote Access

Many routers include capabilities that enable remote access from outside your house more convenient. You may usually safely turn these functions off from the router settings panel unless you need admin-level access to your router from somewhere else. If you deactivate remote access, you lessen the chance of someone remotely accessing and messing with your router.

To do so, go to the web interface of your router and look for “Remote Access,” “Remote Administration,” or “Remote Management.” Check to see if it’s disabled – it’s usually off by default on most routers, but it’s worth double-checking.

If it turns out that some of your network’s apps and devices require remote access, you may always allow it again if necessary.

Disable Plug N Play

Plug N Play allows smart home devices to connect to the Internet to perform specific tasks and fetch updates and information. Plug N Play is necessary for the Internet of Things IoT to work correctly but can also allow hackers to invade a private network.

Hackers can send malware through these smart devices to gain administrative privileges to access a router’s security panel. Since many smart devices don’t have password protection enabled by default or use the same password for each device, IoT can be a massive security vulnerability.

You should turn off the Plug N Play feature on all owned smart devices and change their passwords.

Aside from these steps, the number one measure to protect yourself online is to be aware of threats. Look out for suspicious messages announcing giveaways and lucky draw winners etc. Never open links from strangers, and should not hand out personal information. Always consider the risks involved in performing the actions the message is asking you. There are always some strings attached, and those strings are you losing access to your data and account.