July 2018

A DSL/Cable Modem and Router are a gateway to the Internet. Network performance

and Internet Safety start with them. Following are steps one can take to not only reduce

risk but possibly improve performance:

1. Update router firmware.  

Everyone should immediately check the website of their router's manufacturer or check with Internet hardware

support to see if there are firmware updates that can be downloaded and installed to block the WPA2 encryption

exploit 'KRACK '. Most newer model routers have an easy to use option to update them with software improvements

and security fixes with downloaded firmware upgrades. Some may even have upgrades to the new WPA3 Encryption

security system later this year. On our business router, installing the new security and software firmware update

simply took opening an Internet browser, logging into the router, selecting the option to download available firmware

updates and waiting several minutes while it installed the update and restarted itself.

In reference to recent hacking and malware attacks, "The FBI has several recommendations for any owner of a small

office or home office router. The simplest thing to do is reboot the device, which will temporarily disrupt the malware

if it is present. Users are also advised to upgrade the device’s firmware and to select a new secure password. If any

remote-management settings are in place, the FBI suggests disabling them. Here are suggestions: 

a.  Restart DSL/Cable modem, once a month or more often. This often solves many Internet connection and

performance problems, such as; intermittent loss of signal, difficulties when connecting, slow connection, speed

fluctuations, and browsing problems. Unplug the Modem for a minute. Don't just turn if off or reset it, unplug it

from power. It may be necessary to wait a minute for the Internet Service Provider (ISP) equipment to autodetect

that it's off and reset the connection. Many ISPs schedule regular reboot of modems during off-peak use times. If

in doubt, do it yourself.  

b.  Unplug the Router as well. The router is basically a tiny computer dedicated to communications. Restarting it

'fresh' is not only a good idea for security, but a good practice for better performance. How often is a computer

tech heard to say? "Have you tried turning it off and back on?" The reason one needs to wait a minute is to allow

all the stored electricity to fully dissipate that is stored in electronic parts called capacitors.

c.  Change the name of the WIFI Router network SSID (Service Set Identifier) to something that would not help

anyone in recognizing who this is.

d.  Change the default manufacturer router login and passwords and network administrator password and make

sure to set a strong, unique password to secure the wireless network. 

e.  Turn off the wireless network when not at home or in the office to minimize the time available as a target for

hackers and lower the risk of power surge damage during thunderstorms or electric power fluctuations.

f.  Turn Off the Router Remote Access feature to prevent others from gaining access to the router’s privacy settings

from a device not connected to the wireless network.

g.  Place the wireless router as close as possible to the middle of the office or home to provide the best signal to all

the rooms. This will also reduce the distance the wireless signal range reaches beyond the building where it

could be easily intercepted by malicious persons.

2. Tighten down security with the help of a technical advisor:

a.  Change the default IP address on the wireless router to a less common one to make it more difficult for hackers.

b.  Turn off Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server so each device must be manually assigned a static IP

address to connect to the network instead of automatically being assigned a connection.

c.  Secure the Wi-fi network by setting up a hardware firewall. Many new routers have this feature built in. If a

router doesn’t have a built-in firewall, one can install a firewall device in addition to the router in order to protect

the system from malicious hacking attempts against the network. These electronic firewall devices add one extra

layer of security that should protect the network from most potential cyber attacks.