If you’re using WiFi at home then you may have some nagging concerns about its security. Some connections can extend up to a mighty 100 meters so such concerns extend beyond the question of trusting your neighbors.Improving your WiFi Connection

Alternatively, maybe you have a very weak signal that stretches to a fraction of that distance. The risk may be minimal but that’s not satisfactory if you need extensive internet use around the home and office.

However, it’s not difficult to get a good balance between strength and security. Here are ten tips to help.

1. Change your Router’s Password

When your package is delivered by your provider, the router itself is likely to have a default password or, in some extreme cases, there may even be no password at all. The defaults are very easy to hack so make sure that you change them immediately to an obscure combination of letters and numbers that only you will remember.

2. Set your Wireless Encryption

When your package arrives your WiFi is likely to be unencrypted as a default setting, so it’s vital that you implement this right away. Two types of encryption exist – WPA and WEP and while WEP can be hacked relatively easily, the industry experts recommend WPA as being far stronger and extremely difficult to access by a third party.

3. Change your SSID

An SSID is merely a complicated term given to the name of your network. When your pack arrives it may default to the name of the provider – e.g. Yahoo – or it may simply say ‘default’.

Once again, these standard settings are no real defense against the experienced hacker, so change them to an obscure name that doesn’t identify you or your premises as their owner.

4. Set your Firewall

Any high quality provider should offer a firewall as part of their WiFi package but don’t assume that it will be switched on when it’s delivered. Leaving it disabled will seriously compromise your security but luckily setting up firewall protection is a relatively easy process.

5. Strengthening your Signal – Change your Router’s position

Here’s our first tip for getting a better and stronger signal and while this is basic advice, it’s a factor that is easily overlooked. The position of your wireless router is vital, so think carefully about where you put it.

If it’s nestled in the basement of your house next to stacks of electronic equipment then elementary troubleshooting will uncover the reason why your signal is weak. A central location in the home or office, free from electronic neighbors, will strengthen your connection.

6. Upgrade your Antenna

Router antennae vary in their effectiveness, so if you are having issues with the strength of your connection, you can consider an upgrade as a quick and simple solution.

This type of equipment ranges in price from around $40.00 to $100.00, and you get what you pay for. As an example, the Hawking HAI15SC Hi-Gain Wireless Corner Antenna is at the top end of that price scale but it boasts an improvement in signal strength from 2dBi to 15dBi.

7. Staying Safe in Public – Turn off Sharing

There are huge concerns about the safety of public WiFi, and one of the most common errors is to keep the share option on your laptop or other internet enabled device. This feature may be useful at home to allow sharing of files, music and pictures between PC’s, but leave it open in public and you’re easy prey for hackers.

The procedure for turning off sharing differs between equipment but be sure to do this in order to stay safe.

8. Avoid Automatic Connections

Many Android phones and tablets have a default setting whereby they will automatically connect to the nearest WiFi Hotspot in the vicinity.  This can be a risk—although most connections are secure, this default setting may also connect to malicious networks that can subsequently hack into your system.

Some cellphones now have this facility disabled as standard, but don’t assume that this is the case. Check, and turn it off if necessary.

9. How to Protect your Passwords

If you use public WiFi extensively then it may be advisable to use a number of different passwords for the sites that you visit, particularly if they contain sensitive personal data. Then, if the worst happens and a hack does occur while you’re visiting a website then you may only compromise one piece of code while all others remain safe.

If keeping track of a number of variations seems tricky, you may want to use a free password management system. Systems such as KeePass or LastPass guarantee security. They work in different ways – LastPass stores details in the cloud while KeePass maintain an encrypted file on your device.

10. In Every Setting…

You must install, run and maintain anti-virus software for WiFi connections both inside and outside the home. It may sound obvious but it’s easy to neglect your protection by not keeping it updated or worse still, failing to install any software at all.

It may not prevent the most professional of hackers, but it’s a great way to stay safe against the majority of attacks.

Author Bio: This guest post was written by Kevin Raposo, a blogger for SimpliSafe Home Security. Kevin covers issues related to home security, tech, crime, and safety. When he isn’t writing, he’s usually dominating darts against his co-workers, or playing the occasional jam session with friends. SimpliSafe is a making its way to be the leader of the wireless home security field.