Broadband security - Change your router password as soon as possible!

Guest blogger Ben Lacey from Lacey Tech Solutions offers some practical password security guidelines for your router!

Modern wireless broadband routers come shipped with a default user account and password to access the router's configuration page, if the default account password isn't changed then a potential hacker could gain access to your router and have complete control or access to your internet connection.

When choosing a password for your wireless router you need to make sure its secure. Here are a few suggestions on how to create a secure password:

1. Use at least eight characters, the more characters the better really, but most people will find anything more than about 15 characters difficult to remember. You could use applications like KeePas (http://keepass.info) to store your passwords to make things easier for you.

2. Use a random mixture of characters, upper and lower case, numbers, punctuation, spaces and symbols.

3. Don't use a word found in an English or foreign dictionary as these are easily cracked.

4. Keep a log of previously used passwords and never use the same password twice.
 

Things you should avoid when choosing a password:

1. Don't add a number or symbol before or after a word. e.g. "router1"
2. Don't double up a single word. e.g. "routerrouter"
3. Don't reverse a common dictionary word. e.g. "retuor"
4. Don't choose a dictionary word and remove the vowels
5. Don't use key sequences that can be repeated easily e.g. "qwerty","wasd" etc.
5. Don't garble your letters, e.g. substituting an L for a 1 or an O for a zero eg: "z3r0-10v3"

To save yourself some time here is a list of websites that allow you to generate secure passwords. Safepasswd.com is my personal favourite because it allows you to create passwords that are 40 or 50 characters long.

http://www.safepasswd.com
http://strongpasswordgenerator.com
http://www.onlinepasswordgenerator.net
 

How would a hacker get hold of my password anyway?

Steal it – Someone could look over your shoulder when typing your password. They could look to see if you've written the password down on paper – This is a big no no! These two examples are probably the most common way passwords are compromised, so it's very important you don't write your password down, and remember not to type in your password when somebody could be watching. The best idea is to store the password in KeePas or a similar application.

A brute force or dictionary attack – Hackers often have access to tools that allow them to try every possible combination of letters, numbers and symbols in an attempt to guess the password. A dictionary attack is where the brute-force attack used words available in a dictionary (English or Foreign)
 

Ways you can protect yourself:

1. Use strong passwords as mentioned above and use mac address filtering on your router.

2. MAC Address filtering:

On your router you can secure your network by using MAC address filtering. This tells your router to allow only thedevices you trust to connect to your network / internet connection.

A MAC (Media Access Control) address is a unique ID (identifier) that is assigned to every networked device (Cellphones, smartphones, computers, laptops, iPads etc). They are assigned by the manufacturer of your device and are encodeded with the manufacturer's registered identification number. The MAC address of a device cannot be changed so setting up your router to only allow devices you trust is a sensible idea.

Setting up MAC Address filtering will vary from router to router, but I will show you how to get the MAC address of common devices.

Find MAC address on your PC (Windows 7):

1. Click the windows button in the bottom left
2. Click in the 'search programs and files'
3. Type, 'cmd'
4. Under 'Programs' click on 'cmd.exe'
5. This is the windows command line.
6. Type ipconfig /all
7. Look for the “Physical Address”. The numbers / letters shown on the right is your MAC address.

Every router is different so you will need to search online for instructions on how to enable Mac address filtering on your specific router. You would need to get the mac addresses of all the devices you want to allow to connect to your home or business network.

Once you have the list of your mac addresses you can enter them into the mac address
filtering section of your router's configuration page (accessed by opening your web browser and typing either: http://192.168.1.1/ or http://192.168.0.1/) This will mean that only those devices you allow can access your network and internet connection.

Comments

  • happy

    by Phillip at 23:31 on 13 Sep 2011 Report abuse

    I use the RoboForm password manager to remember and fill all of my login credentials, it has a great password generate feature that will create random sets of alpha-numeric characters based on your settings to use as a password, but it also remembers the information for you so you don't have to write it down. You can always generate a print list though if you need a hard copy.

  • happy

    by Ben Lacey at 15:24 on 2 Nov 2011 Report abuse

    Thanks for the reply Phillip,
    I'll have to look into RoboForm. Personally I find that greating a series of complex passwords and memorizing them is the best approach.

    I wish websites would implement a system where you select 3 random characters of your password. It seems a logical security measure and would stop key loggers grabbing passwords you enter.

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