Recent reports have warned South African homeowners to beware of internet hackers that are increasingly targeting personal Wi-Fi routers to launch phishing attacks.
According to NordVPN cybersecurity expert Daniel Markuson, hackers are taking advantage of personal Wi-Fi networks, changing the settings on unprotected routers, and then launching phishing attacks that redirect users to a fake webpage, purporting to be that of the World Health Organisation. There, users are prompted to download an application offering information about COVID-19. Once downloaded, this application steals users’ info and then uploads it to the hackers’ servers.
Considering only one in 6 of home Wi-Fi users do something to protect their routers, these devices are extremely vulnerable to attacks – this specific attack alone affected close to 1200 users.
NordVPN recommends that users of home Wi-Fi routers should change their password from the default password that comes with every router, but can also consider hiding the name of their home network from unfamiliar users.
How to hide your home network name
To hide the name of a wireless network, users are required to disable the SSID of their router. The SSID (service set identifier) is the name by which the network is visible to surrounding users and devices. This feature is enabled by default on just about all routers and makes it easier to view and access networks. The SSID usually contains the brand name of the router (TP-LINK, for example) unless the user has changed it.
While hiding the SSID does not hide the network completely, and the router’s activity may still be visible to more adept hackers, it does go a long way in making a personal network more secure. It is important to note, though, that hiding the SSID will mean that letting guests connect to your Wi-Fi will be a little more complicated than merely giving them a password – they will need to configure their settings manually to connect.
To hide your home Wi-Fi SSID, change your router’s settings by opening the router’s control panel via your web browser. Find the router’s IP at the bottom of the router itself or in the instruction manual that came with it, type this address into your browser, and hit “enter”. Enter the username and password to login, and then open the control panel. Here, find the wireless settings, and the SSID broadcasting option. This option should then be disabled.
To further protect their Wi-Fi network, users can also consider setting up a VPN on their router. In the end, though, a strong password remains one of the very best ways to protect a network – if you’re still using the password your router came with, change it immediately.