The vast majority of us are by now aware that having a password on our home Wi-Fi routers is a necessity; leaving your network open paves the way for neighbours and passers-by to cheekily ‘borrow’ your internet connection, and it will also give them access to any shared data you have on your computers.
However, less people are aware that there is a second important password to set up on their Wi-Fi routers. Many people will have never needed to access their router’s settings; these are accessed by entering the IP address of the router into a browser, at which point users have to enter an admin password to be able to make changes.
The problem is that manufacturers often have a default admin password for all their devices. Computer users who are ‘in the know’ can work out the manufacturer of routers. Then, malicious users would be able to change the admin password of your router. This process can even be automated and carried out by a smartphone which, if carried around in a populated area, would come across potentially hundreds of routers a day.
At the moment, there is no evidence that this technique is being used for anything other than changing routers’ admin passwords; however, there is the potential for using this same technique to be able to steal passwords and other sensitive information in the future.
So what can we do to protect ourselves against this? It’s really quite straight forward, and although the exact manner of doing so differs from device to device, it’s generally very similar:
1) Find the IP address to access your routers settings. This should be noted somewhere on the device or in the instruction manuals that came with your router.
2) Enter this IP address in to your preferred browser. This should bring up your router’s control panel and allow you to enter a username and password.
3) Login to the device as an admin. The default password should again be noted on the device or in the instruction manual.
4) Change the default admin password to something easy to remember. This option should be found under ‘Settings’, ‘System Maintenance’ or a similarly named section.
Congratulations! Your router’s settings are now much better protected against anyone who may wish to interfere with them in the future.