Intego

Lock Down and Secure Your Router — Intego Mac Podcast, Episode 36

Posted on June 22nd, 2018 by

New Intego Mac Podcast Episode

The Intego Mac Podcast episode 36 is now available!

When was the last time you checked your router's settings? Have you installed the latest firmware updates? Hosts Kirk and Josh cover the best ways to secure your home router, explaining in layman's terms the many steps you can take to lock it down and protect your network from hackers.

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  • Larry Rosenblum

    I recently had a similar experience to Kirk’s. I received a new router from my ISP, Comcast. They no longer require a technician to set it up, and they included installation instructions. The router came with an allegedly unique WiFi SSID and password, both printed on a label on the side of the router. They also have an optional iOS/Android app that can be used to configure the router. I signed in with my Comcast account and then scanned a QR code on the router, which undoubtedly uniquely identifies it. The app guided me through the installation, and I could then do the typical configurations with the app.

    I was able to change the provided SSID and password, and I chose to follow their suggestion to give both the 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz networks the same SSID so the router could do its own optimization.

    However, neither the app nor the provided instructions required me to log in to the router, nor did they give any instructions about how to do so (or even any indication that such a thing was possible). I had to go to the Comcast web site and dig through the Support section until I found a page about securing their router. That gave me login instructions (which were ‘admin’ and ‘password’ and IP address 10.0.0.1) plus other configuration information/suggestions. To their credit, when I first logged in, the router required me to change the password, but any non-technical user who didn’t already know better would never know to do that.

    As you discussed, there is a firewall. However, the settings on this router are not individual; there is only a selection of low, medium, or high security. The default is low. The explanation of what these settings mean is brief. It said the medium setting disables ‘peer-to-peer’ connections such as BitTorrent (and others I’ve never heard of). Since I don’t use anything like that, I changed the setting to medium. The high setting “blocks most applications except browsing, email, iTunes and VPN,” and that seems too restrictive for me.

    Another important note I found buried in the support pages was that the router has to be rebooted for firmware updates to be installed. There is a suggestion to do that periodically, since there is no indication of when a firmware update is available. I set a reminder to myself to do it once a month. At least I can do it through the app, rather than needing to power it off and on or doing it via the Comcast web site.

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