Router security guide for small businesses
As a small business owner, you may not have the time or energy to properly consider your router security or the security of your network. That could be a mistake. Small businesses are now a prime target for hackers, which is why we put this router security guide for small businesses together. It’s a fast, actionable guide that shows you the risks you face and what you can do about them.
You may think your business is too small for hackers to notice but the opposite is true. Many exploits and hackers are targeting small businesses. They know you are often too small to have a dedicated IT or security team and too busy to spend much time learning about router security.
You don’t have to be a target. This guide has been written by Jamie Kavanagh, a contributor at Broadband Genie specifically for small businesses. It’s short, to the point and shows you exactly what you need to do.
Why you should secure your business network
According to research from Broadband Genie, there are millions of vulnerable routers connected to the internet.
A survey of UK users found:
- 82% of broadband customers have never changed their default router login.
- 69% have never changed their Wi-Fi password
- 82% had never changed the administrator password on their router.
- 82% had never changed their Wi-Fi SSID.
- 86% have never updated their router firmware.
- 70% have never checked to see what is connected to their network.
- 51% respondents said they had taken no action to secure their router.
Don’t be one of them!
Here are some quick changes you can make that can drastically improve your router security. These will all be done from your router’s administration panel.
Change the default admin username and password
Many routers come with a default username and password for administrator access, and they are well known. Leaving them set at default is like leaving your key in your door. It’s an open invitation to be hacked.
- Log into your router. There should be a sticker on the casing with the default login details, or it will be printed in the manual.
- Find the admin username and password in the router menu and change it.
- Save your changes.
This single change can seriously improve your network security so do it right now! Make sure the password is complicated and not a single dictionary word for maximum security.
Change your Wi-Fi password and SSID
Like default logins, your router will have a default Wi-Fi password. Change it. The SSID is the wireless network name and changing it can also help with security.
- Access the Wi-Fi or Wireless menu on your router.
- Change the Wi-Fi password to something very secure.
- Identify the current SSID and change it to something.
Make sure the password you select is as difficult as possible while remaining memorable. Ensure the SSID you choose does not identify you or your business so don’t use names or anything identifiable.
Most newer routers will automatically use WPA2 encryption. This is the current industry standard. But older routers may still use the weaker WPA, or the very insecure WEP. Let’s check yours.
Using the same Wi-Fi menu as above, look for encryption or where it says either WEP, WPA or WPA2. If the option is set to WPA2, leave it. If it says WPA or WEP, change it to WPA2 immediately and save the change.
If you have a very new router you may have the option of using WPA3, which is even more secure.
Disable guest networks
Unless you regularly allow customers to access your Wi-Fi, you should disable guest networks. This is another potential vulnerability but also a way outsiders can freely use your bandwidth.
- Locate Guest Networks within the wireless menu on your router.
- Uncheck the box or toggle it to off.
- Save the change.
Wi-Fi Protected Setup
Wi-Fi Protected Setup, (WPS) is a mechanism for allowing easy access to wireless networks by simply pressing a button or entering a PIN. It is also a vulnerability. While you’re in the wireless menu of your router, disable Wi-Fi Protected Setup or WPS, depending on what your router calls it. Save the change.
Disable remote access
Most routers will contain a feature that allows remote access. This is to allow tech support to log in and troubleshoot but can also allow hackers to do the same. Disable it. You can enable it again temporarily if you ever need it.
- Navigate to the administration pane or where you see Remote Access mentioned.
- Uncheck the box or toggle it off.
- Save your change.
Update your router firmware
Firmware is your router’s operating system and is updated just like Windows or macOS. Updates will include bug fixes, vulnerability patches and extra features.
- Navigate to the administration pane on your router.
- Look for something that says Check for Updates or Update Firmware.
If you router says ‘Check For Updates’, it can check itself for firmware. Allow it to download and install any updates. If it says ‘Update Firmware’ you may have to visit the manufacturer’s website, download the correct firmware for your model of router and update it manually.
Check your network for attached devices
Do you know what devices have access to your network? A simple check can show you exactly who is using it and when. This is useful for checking for unauthorized access.
Your router should have a setting called Network Map or Attached Devices in its admin panel. Select the option and you should see a list of devices that are using the network. If there is something attached you don’t recognise, there should be an option to kick it off the network. Do so and change the Wi-Fi password if you haven’t done so already to stop them reconnecting.
Upgrade to a business router
Upgrading a home router to a business router is an expense but a necessary one. It’s like upgrading your front door. It will be stronger, have more security features, better locks and insulate you better from the outside world. Check out these top routers for small businesses in 2019 by TechRadar.
Business routers often have a better firewall, more security features, more powerful Wi-Fi, the option for more secure guest networks or more wireless networks and advanced features such as traffic prioritization (QoS) and packet filtering. Well worth considering if you’re still using an ISP-supplied free router!
If you’re considering upgrading your router, give us a call on 01933 426162 or request a call-back via our contact form.
Creative Marketing Designer at Dufeu IT | Wife to a tech genius | Mother of two little princesses