Halting hackers: How to keep your home Wi-Fi router secure

By Tom Yun, CTVNews.ca Writer

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    TORONTO, Ontario (CTV Network) — How secure is your Wi-Fi router?

When it comes to home cybersecurity, experts tell CTVNews.ca that too many Canadians are overlooking their Wi-Fi routers, leaving their networks vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

“The word ‘router’ for most casual users of technology is often somewhat intimidating,” London, Ont.-based technology analyst Carmi Levy told CTVNews.ca over the phone on Friday.

“They’re intimidated by this technology. They just want it to work and then once it’s working, they don’t want to tempt fate by digging into the settings and making any changes.”

Having a compromised router could allow hackers to spy on everything that you’re doing online, including your banking and medical information, or steal your bandwidth. A compromised router can even give hackers access to your security cameras, baby monitors and other smart home devices on the network.

“There were recent incidents where baby monitors got hacked,” said Toronto-based cybersecurity expert Ritesh Kotak in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca on Friday. “That’s some scary stuff.”

Hackers can also use a compromised router to replace the websites that you want to visit with fake phishing websites and try to steal your login credentials and personal info, through a process known as “DNS hijacking.”

Cybersecurity firm Bitdefender reported on one such DNS hijacking scheme back in March 2020, when victims hoping to visit certain major websites were redirected to a fake message from the World Health Organization about COVID-19 asking them to download a malicious app.

“Think of your router as another lock on your front door. And if you leave that lock vulnerable, it’s one less step for cyber criminals to go through in order to get to you,” said Levy.

Here are some tips on how to secure your home network:

CHANGE THE DEFAULT PASSWORDS One of the easiest ways to make sure your router is secure is to change all the default passwords on it, experts say.

Changing your Wi-Fi password to something that can’t easily be guessed and hiding your SSID…