Routers: Renting vs. Buying for Online Security

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By Dave Pagenkopf

Personal online security and privacy are often areas of our lives we would like to be more diligent about. Now is a great time to refresh our goals and tune up those areas!  Don’t be overwhelmed… From August 1 – 10, I’m sharing ideas to tune up your online privacy and computer security.

The fifth tip I would like to share with you is about Routers. Some internet providers will supply a wireless router with their service, but I recommend that you buy your own.

My wireless router is the primary device keeping my computers (including those of my children) safe from hackers and I want to control the settings and the administrator password. Therefore, when friends and family ask for advice on home networking security here is what I tell them to buy their own wireless router (e.g. LinkSys, ASUS, Netgear), change the administrator password, disable remote router access, turn on WPA2-AES encryption, and turn off the SSID broadcast.

Turning off the SSID will allow you to enter your network name instead of picking it from a list on your mobile device (likely among all your neighbors). Instead, you will need to know the SSID and connect manually the first time. However, that means that hackers that may be in your neighborhood won’t see your network either.

You will save money and increase performance speed! It generally costs $5 to $10 per month to lease a router from the cable company, and those Consumer Reports recommends in their Ratings range from $85 to $240. Simple math reveals that if you buy a router, it will quickly pay for itself in monthly savings on your bill. A new router should speed up file transfers between devices in your home and allow you and the people you live with to stream more videos simultaneously. Their top pick, the LinkSys AC2600, $240, should get you consistent speed throughout the house (depending on doors, walls, and other obstructions), be simple to set up, and boost your online security!