Wi-Fi security tips

This basic guide to Wifi security should answer most commonly asked questions.

Here are our top five most recommended tips to give you the best possible protection while using wireless.

Use the latest Wireless encryption and strong passwords

Wireless encryption

Wireless encryption scrambles the signal of a wireless network, so it can only be read with the correct key (password). Over time, newer encryption standards have been introduced to improve security and combat the threat of hacking. As a rule of thumb, older encryption standards are more susceptible to attack.

Most modern routers (including current Plusnet models e.g Plusnet 2704n or the Plusnet Hub One) use WPA2-PSK encryption as standard which should be more than strong enough to prevent intruders gaining access to your network.

If you're using an older router

Older routers using WPA-PSK will usually support WPA2-PSK. If your computers and devices are compatible with WPA2-PSK we recommend switching your network to this when you can.

If your router is using WEP, we'd recommend changing this to WPA-PSK as a minimum.

If you're not sure how to do this and you're using a Plusnet router, please see our Router guides. Otherwise, please see your router's manual for more help.

Your wireless password

Plusnet routers use a strong wireless password as standard. As long as you keep it safe and secure, it's unlikely that you'll need to change it. Even so, you should be aware that the password is printed on the bottom of your router and the reference card.

Remember, even with the very best encryption, your network security is only as strong as the password it uses. Using a weak password could allow a hacker to gain access to your network within a few minutes.

Your router password

Changing router settings is easy, as using a web browser you can access your router's internal setup page. Anyone who is connected to your network can do this if they know the IP address of your router and the router username and password.

Plusnet routers are set up with a strong password that shouldn't need changing, but you should be aware that the password is printed on your router (usually on the back or bottom) and the reference card.

Guidelines for choosing a new password

If you want to change a password for any reason, following these guidelines will help you choose a strong password

  • Choose something you'll be able to remember!
  • Use a mixture of letters (upper and lowercase if you can) and numbers
  • Avoid using single words that you can find in a dictionary
  • Don't use personal details e.g. names, addresses or dates of birth

See this Microsoft guide to strong password creation for more tips.

Consider changing your wireless network name (SSID)

Wireless network list.

The Wireless network name (or SSID) is the name you look for when scanning for available networks.

If you're not using a Plusnet router, you may want to consider changing the network name. This can put a potential hacker off because they'll see you've made some effort to secure your wireless network.

While it seems obvious to call your network My Home Network, or something similar to identify it as your own, this can make it easy for a hacker to identify where your network is.

Guidelines for choosing a new wireless network name
  • Don't use your name, date of birth, home address or any personal information
  • Avoid using a word or phrase that you've used elsewhere (e.g. for a password)
  • Try to avoid tempting names like 'Keep Out' or 'Top Secret'. It'll only make a hacker even more curious!

Switch off your wireless network if you're not using it

If you're not using wireless temporarily (e.g. you're going on holiday) you should consider turning your router off.

Don't switch your router off unless you're going to be away for a while. Leaving your router switched on improves the performance and reliability of your broadband (find out why).

If you want to turn Wi-Fi off altogether (e.g. if you only connect through an Ethernet cable), then you can do this by logging into your router and changing the settings.

Put your router in a safe place

Did you know that your wireless signal is not only available inside your house, but also outside it too? A small amount of 'leakage' is fine, but the further the wireless signal reaches the greater the chance that your wireless network will be seen by others and a greater chance that attempted logins are made. Wireless signals can reach your neighbours' property, or even as far as different streets in the right conditions.

Where you place your router or access point in your home makes a difference to how far the wireless signal can reach. Try to avoid putting it in or close to a window. This will allow your wireless signal to 'leak' outdoors.

Where your router is installed can also affect the signal strength in your own property. See How to improve your wireless signal if you're having problems with this.

Stay safe while using public Wi-Fi hotspots

Public Wi-Fi hotspots (e.g. in a coffee shop, airport, restaurant or public house) are inherently more dangerous in comparison to using your Wireless network at home.

Most public networks are unsecure, meaning anyone can connect to them. Depending on the range of the hotspot you may not even need to sit in the premises of where the network is based! It's fairly easy for a hacker to monitor the traffic of any wireless network they are connected to. An unsecure network makes this even easier.

Guidelines for using public Wi-Fi hotspots
  • Try to avoid logging into websites where you'd need to enter personal or card details
  • If you have to enter details on a website, make sure the page you're entering them on uses https rather than http (you'll see a padlock in the address bar or at the bottom of your web browser window when https is used)
    You'll see a padlock like this if HTTPS is in use
  • If using email, use a secure webmail service if possible e.g.
  • Try to avoid sending or collecting email with confidential material contained in them
  • Make sure your computer isn't set up to share folders with important files (Windows computers will ask you about this when connecting to new networks)

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