This story is part of Home Tips, CNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.
Your home Wi-Fi network might not be as safe as you think. In 2021, internet crime cost Americans more than $6.9 billion. While phishing and scams contributed to the losses, personal data breaches were also significant. In many cases, those personal data breaches could have been prevented by just a little home network security.
The average US household has more than 10 devices connected to its home Wi-Fi network. From laptops and tablets to phones, smartwatches and streaming devices, the number can ramp up quickly, and each is potentially vulnerable to hacking. With so much data stored on those devices — credit card numbers, bank records, login credentials and other personal and private information — you want to ensure you’re protecting yourself from hackers if your network is ever compromised.
A secure home network will help reduce the risk of getting hacked and having someone access your sensitive information. Not only that, it will keep away unwanted or unauthorized users and devices that would slow down your connection or freeload on the internet service you pay for.
It’s fairly simple to create and maintain a secure home Wi-Fi network. Below, you’ll find 10 tips for securing your network. Some are more effective than others at keeping hackers and freeloaders at bay, but all are useful in their own way. Keep in mind that nothing can guarantee absolute security from hacking attempts, but these tips will make it harder for anyone to compromise your network and data. (For more Wi-Fi tips, check out how to tell if your internet provider is throttling your Wi-Fi and our tips on how to speed up your Wi-Fi connection).
How to secure your home Wi-Fi network
Here are the basics for protecting your home Wi-Fi network. Keep reading for more information on each below.
1. Place your router in a central location.
2. Create a strong Wi-Fi password and change it often.
3. Change the default router login credentials.
4. Turn on firewall and Wi-Fi encryption.
5. Create a guest network.
6. Use a VPN.
7. Keep your router and devices up to date.
8. Disable remote router access.
9. Verify connected devices.
10. Upgrade to a WPA3 router.
Place your router in a central location
Strong network security starts with a smart setup. If possible, place your router at the center of your home. Routers send wireless signals in all directions, so strategically placing your router in a central location will help keep your connection to the confines of your home. As a bonus, it will likely also make for the best connection quality.
For example, if you have internet in an apartment where neighbors