While not completely foolproof, WiFi extenders are add-on devices that are as secure or as open as the network they are connected to.
I have spent years working with different extenders. My first-hand experience and technological background have both given me a wide knowledge of the devices, as well as what it takes to make them as secure as possible.
This guide will give a deep look at the security WiFi extenders in order to figure out how easy they are to hack, how certain models differ, as well as what steps you can take to make sure yours stays safe at all times.
- WiFi extender security is largely predicated on the security of the network it’s attached to.
- When setting up an extender, using a strong password and constantly monitoring your network are great ways to ensure it’s protected.
- Always be on the lookout for suspicious activity on your home connection to see if it’s been hacked.
Are WiFi Extenders Secure?
While many people view their WiFi extender as a unique device that’s separate from their home network, that’s simply not the case. The devices do stand on their own in terms of boosting or expanding your signal, but their security is inherently linked to your network.
Simply put, extenders run completely on and through your personal connection. That means they are as secure (or as open) as your home internet. They have the same levels of security as traditional routers that use WEP, WPA, WPA2, and standard communications protocols.
If you have a secure network, you have a secure extender. In addition, if you have an extender that comes with personal security settings, simply enable them during setup and you’re good to go.
That being said, extenders are technological devices that can be hacked just like anything else. You always want to make sure yours is as safe as possible. They can be compromised, but if you take the right steps you won’t have much to worry about.
How to Secure a WiFi Extension
If you want to ensure that you have an extra level of security, there are many things you can do to increase your extender’s (and your wireless signal’s) protection. First, using the WPS (WiFi Protected Setup) button is a great way to limit how easily hackers could get into your system.
As with any tech device, a strong password is highly recommended. It’s extremely easy to get lazy when setting up your password, but you always want to do your best to ensure that you make something with a lot of capital and characters. Try to make it unique to your extender too.
Going off that step, limiting the number of people you give out your password to goes a long way as well. You’re always going to give it to close friends and family members, but you don’t want to ever give it to anyone beyond that circle. The fewer people with access, the better.
You can take that even further by also changing the password rather frequently. Often, users will come up with something and just stick with it. Don’t be afraid to alter it once a year (or more).
Something else you can do that isn’t password related is changing your network name. Router manufacturers produce the same settings for every product in a line. That often means they will use the same admin software on everything they create.
While hackers can easily access your device through that software, changing your SSID to something only you recognize will make it harder to crack.
One last option you have at your disposal is keeping your router’s firmware up to date. Though it should update automatically, it never hurts to check each month for any new updates that might be out there.
Can You Tell If Your WiFi is Hacked?
Having someone else access your WiFi can be a very harrowing and scary experience. While it rarely happens, even on more open networks, it’s important to readily recognize the different signs that someone you don’t trust is using your connection.
One of the biggest signs is if you ever have trouble logging into your router’s admin settings. That likely means you’re under a password attack, which someone used to exploit your data. That’s one issue that routinely switching up a strong password will prevent.
Slow internet speed is something else that can suggest a cyber attack. Slow speeds are commonplace, and they don’t always hint at a bigger issue, but they can also mean someone else is using your data.
If you want to watch for something a bit more obvious, keep an eye out for browser redirects. That occurs when your browser brings you a different website than the one you entered. When that happens, something fishy is most definitely going on.
Beyond that, trust your gut and note anything that immediately jumps out as odd or suspicious. Unfamiliar software downloads, fake antivirus notifications, and alerts from your internet provider are all things that should set off alarms.
The above examples don’t necessarily mean that someone nefarious is accessing your WiFi, but they are important warning signs to be on the lookout for while using your home internet.
If you want more information, check out this video.
This section touches upon, and answers, some of the most asked questions surrounding WiFi extender security.
Which WiFi Extenders are the Most Vulnerable?
While almost all extenders tend to be secure as long as the user has a reliable at-home connection, TP-Link did have a security issue with some of their models a few years ago. Luckily, those loopholes have been patched.
Does a WiFi Extender Need a New Password?
An extender does not need a new password, but you can use one depending on your personal preferences. While most companies suggest using the same password for your extender and network, the choice is ultimately yours.
Should I Turn Off My WiFi Extender When Not In Use?
That is completely up to you. Most people leave their extenders on at all times. It doesn’t take up a lot of extra energy and can be annoying to turn back on.
WiFi extenders, by their nature, are not any more or any less secure than the network they’re on. While they can be accessed by hackers, so can almost all devices. Just be diligent, monitor your network, and take the steps to make sure it always stays properly protected.
Do you use a WiFi extender? If so, what security measures do you take with it? Let us know in the comments below!