Sharing your WiFi password with everyone who passes through your house is not a smart idea, even though that is what most people do. You’ve probably realized this is a risky practice before now, but let’s face it, telling someone “No I don’t trust you with my WiFi access” is not the hospitable thing to do. My mom always told me to share.
Why not share your WiFi password?
The problem is that sharing that password makes your home network vulnerable to those with nefarious purposes, and in many cases, it allows access to the files on the computers and devices that are connected to your home network. Plus there’s the equally common, yet unsafe, practice of recycling the same passwords over and over whether it be for the WiFi network, or everything else.
I get it. I really do. I have so many different logins, I literally can’t keep them straight. I rely upon Excel to do that for me. It’s not convenient to have to pull up a spreadsheet every time I want to login to a different account, or website, or app, but my stuff is much more secure that way. However, if you are one of those people who reuses your passwords, it means that once you give out your WiFi password, that person also has your password for countless other accounts.
So, when asked for access to your WiFi, what is a person to do—preferably without breaching the protocols of etiquette? Simple, just set up a guest WiFi network with a different password that you can share with all those you wouldn’t trust with your deepest darkest secrets (pretty much everybody besides your spouse). It only takes about five minutes.
How to set up a Guest WiFi network:
First: You must be able to access your router admin page in order to change any settings or set up another WiFi network. Most routers have a sticker somewhere on its body that will tell you all the pertinent information you need to access the admin page. If you removed that sticker for some reason, try Google. Google knows everything.
- Type your LAN IP into your browser’s address field like you would any other web address. It starts with http://, and is followed by numbers separated by periods, like http://192.168.1.1.
- You will be prompted to input the default admin ID and password, which should also be listed on the sticker on your router. If you’ve set up your own password and ID to get into the router admin page…hopefully you remember what it is or have it written down somewhere.
- Once you type in the correct credentials, you should have complete access to all your router settings.
Second: Click on Guest Network. As you can see, on my router settings page Guest Network is listed on the left hand side. Each make of router will have a unique page, but will have more or less the same options. If you don’t have a Guest Network option, look for something worded similarly. The screenshot above shows a guest network I have already set up, but you see there is the option to disable, enable another network or change the settings at any time.
Third: To set up a network, just click Enable and then change the settings to your preferences. Done!
What do the settings mean?
If you are not familiar with what these settings mean, you are not alone. Here’s a quick rundown of the most common settings and what they mean…
Network Name or SSID: The name that will identify your network, the same one that will appear on the available WiFi networks list when you are choosing which network to connect to on your devices. You can leave it at the default (usually a combination of your router’s make and model number) or your can create your own.
Authentication Method: Anything that says “Open Access” or similar wording means that this network is wide open for anyone within range to use without any password or network key requirements. The most common setting is WPA2-Personal. This will require the person seeking access to enter the password you set, before they are granted access to the network. Just choose a password that is different from your main network.
Encryption: It’s a good thing. Makes it so that anyone trying to intercept your signal will only see gibberish instead of all the information you are sending wirelessly (i.e. passwords, credit card numbers, account info…etc.). AES encryption is standard.
WPA Pre-Shared Key/ or Network Key: This is the password required to access the network. You can change this at any time.
Access Time: This can limit the amount of time that this network will be accessible. If you are having a party and know that people will be over for a few hours, you can limit the access time to however long you anticipate people needing it. You can also set it to be limitless, meaning this network will always appear and always be available without an expiration.
Access Intranet: Note that this says Intranet, not Internet. This is the little setting that will keep people out of your home computer and other devices connected to the home network. Just say no. Or disable, or whatever.
Enable Mac Filter: This is a really sweet feature that I definitely recommend for your home network, but is not really feasible for a guest network.
If you enabled MAC filtering, you would create a list of allowed MAC addresses (each device has its own unique MAC address that the network identifies) and only MAC addresses (devices) on that list would be given access to the network, even after entering the correct network password. This is a great added security precaution for your main network since you know which devices your family members have, and which ones you want to allow access. But since you don’t have the MACs of all your potential visitors it would make it nearly impossible (or at least, very laborious) to enable a MAC filter for your guest network.
2.4 Ghz/ 5 Ghz: This setting isn’t shown on this particular page, but if you are asked if you would like to set the network up on 2.4 Ghz or 5 Ghz, this is not indicative of the speed of the network you are setting up. It’s similar to the way radio stations work. 2.4 Ghz is just a different channel from 5 Ghz. The most common setting is 2.4 Ghz since most routers default to that, and the signal reaches a tiny bit further, but this frequency also tends to be more crowded. The more networks within range that are set up on the same frequency, the more interference you might get on your WiFi network. If people aren’t going to be pushing the limits of your signal radius, it might be a better idea to set it up on a 5 Ghz frequency.
There you go, you now know why you should set up a guest network, how to do it, and what all those strange settings mean. Hop to, and make your home network a more secure place.
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