It’s a good thing that Verizon FIOS , by default, offers its customers at least a little security on their wireless routers, instead of leaving them with a 100% open wireless network. I suppose it’s in Verizon’s best interest, since an open wifi network would allow neighbors and passersby to jump on to their internet service for free.
But truthfully, the default security WEP is extremely weak, and is very easy to hack. Just google "WEP hack" and you’ll find pages of article and tutorials!
So what does that really mean to you? It means that anyone in range of your home can easily gain access to your network. Why is that a problem? Well, if they are sharing your network, then they can easily achieve access to your computers, stealing private info, snooping on your activity, gaining access to your email accounts, installing malware, etc.
The good news is, you can easily change the router security from WEP to WPA2 with just a few clicks. And you can even keep the same numerical password / key if you’d like, but I highly suggest to change it, but that would be up to you.
So, there is no excuse anymore! Lock down your router! It only takes a couple of minutes!
DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a paid security expert, so please be warned that things can go wrong. The worst that can probably happen is you somehow lock yourself out of your wireless network. In that case, you can click the "reset" button on the router and all settings will revert back to factory defaults. Keep in mind, you should NOT attempt to make any adjustments when you are in a rush, just in case something goes wrong. In other words, don’t start messing with your settings right before an important online meeting that requires online access!
See instructions on how to reset your Verizon FIOS router if you need it.
This tutorial is based on the Actiontec MI424-WR Verizon FIOS wireless router. If your router is a different model or brand, then your settings might differ.
If your computer normally accesses the Internet via a wireless connection, then I suggest using a wired Ethernet cable to attach your computer to the FIOS router. (Ethernet looks like a big telephone cable.) Since you are editing the wireless settings, it will probably bounce you out of the wireless network once any password changes are made. If you are bounced out of wifi, then you will need to log into the network again using the new passkey.
At first glance, these instructions might look very confusing and overwhelming, but don’t let it stop you from trying. Print out the instructions and carefully follow each step. Take your time, and don’t rush. BREATHE and relax!
First off, locate the Verizon FIOS wireless modem/router and turn it over to reveal the label with your model information. The tech that installed your service should have informed you that this is where your WEP password/key is located just in case you need to find it again. That "WEP key" is is what you’ve been using to log into your wireless network.
While you are at the bottom of your router, make note of the serial number located under the bar code. You might possibly need it if your installation tech changed your admin password from the default password to something more secure. More on that in the next part.
In order to access the settings of your Verizon FIOS router, launch your web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari.)
Click the url http://192.168.1.1/ – this is the private web address to the administration area of most routers. Only users that are connected to the router (either wired or wirelessly) can access the admin. And that’s one more reason why it’s so important to raise your security level. If a malicious person gains access to your network, that means he might also be able to gain access to your router’s admin area, where he could opt to lock you out of your own network or worse!
If for some reason the above link http://192.168.1.1/ isn’t clickable, copy and paste it into your browser’s address bar instead.
A Verizon log in window should appear.
Type the default user name “admin” and unless you previously changed the access password, the default password will be “password”.
The password characters might do something crazy, automatically adding and subtracting random characters while you are typing. It’s an additional security measure, in case someone is looking over your shoulder. Yes, it’s annoying! How many people are going to be looking over your shoulder at your house while you are accessing the router admin? Just ignore it, and keep your eyes on the keyboard as you type. It’s less confusing!
IMPORTANT NOTE: as stated above, it’s possible that your installation tech might have changed the default password to the serial number of the router (see previous screen shot). If the word "password" doesn’t work, then try typing the serial number.
If you are still having trouble gaining access, you may want to reset your Verizon FIOS router back to its default factory settings by pushing the reset button on the back of the router. Important! if the router is reset, all previous settings will be lost!
Before you make any changes, you might want to save a copy of the router configuration. That way you can load back the saved file if something goes wrong. If you haven’t made any previous edits to the router, then you can skip this step.
Once in the router administration panel, click the Advanced button. Answer "yes" to proceed.
Click the link for "Configuration File"
Then click "Save Configuration File" and browse to a safe place on your computer’s hard drive, like your Desktop or Documents folder.
You can keep the default file name of "Wireless Broadband Router.conf" or choose a more appropriate file name. Just make sure to keep the file extension of .conf or you won’t be able to load the file back into the router if something goes wrong. I like naming the file with the current date so I know when the file was created.
After you complete the steps to change the security settings from WEP to WPA2, you might want to save the configuration file again. If you are ever forced to reset the router back to factory default settings, it’ll be easy to load the file without having to go through all these steps again.
NOTE: If you ever need to revert to the saved file, in the same panel, click the "Load Configuration File". Browse to where you saved the file and click Apply.
Now for the main event!
To change the router security settings from WEP to WPA2, click the Wireless Settings Menu Button and from the left menu, click "Advanced Security Settings"
On the Advanced Security Settings page, select the option button next to WPA2.
The WPA2 panel will immediately appear.
Choose Pre-shared key as Authentication Method
The Pre-shared key (password) can be kept the same if you’d like. If you leave it alone, it will match the WEP key number on the bottom of your router; that makes it easy to find when you need it in the future.
My advice is to change it to a much longer unique password, using at least 20-30 characters (You can create a key with as many as 63 characters.) Think of a random password using numbers, lower & upper case letters, along with special characters like & or @. Don’t worry about memorizing it, but you will need to write it down somewhere. You might even write it on a new label and place it on the bottom of your FIOS router for easy recall.
But don’t stress out about changing the key, especially if you have a difficult time keeping all your passwords organized. By all means, keep the default pre-shared key that matches WEP key from the label on the underside of the router. Relax, you’re in good shape as long as you change the security to WPA2!
Next setting, make sure to choose "AES" as encryption algorithm. (It has been found that TKIP is not as secure as once thought, so do not choose TKIP + AES.)
IMPORTANT: Keep in mind, if you made these changes while connected to the router wirelessly, then it will probably kick you off the network, since the wifi settings have changed. That’s why it’s always better to connect using an Ethernet wired connection. But not a problem, if you get logged off the network, then sign back in using the new WPA key you just created.
And that’s it, you’ve changed your FIOS router security from WEP to WPA2! All that’s left to do is try logging into the wifi network using the new WPA2 key. Even if you kept the same key numbers as before, you’ll still probably need to log in as a brand new user.
While you’re in the router settings, it makes sense to make a few more adjustments that will tighten your security, right?
UNPnP (Universal Plug n Play) is used by certain programs to automatically open ports for communication, and can open an unwanted security hole in your router. I highly recommend keeping it disabled, and it’s super easy to fix. Here’s how.
If you need to log back into the router administration, click the web address http://192.168.1.1/ again and log in again as admin.
Click the Advanced button on the top menu. Answer "yes" to proceed. Then click the link for "Universal Plug and Play" from the second column.
Uncheck BOTH options and then click Apply.
If you logged into the router using the default "password" password, then it’s a very good idea to change it.
If you are still in the Advanced panel, skip this, and read the next paragraph. If not, click the Advanced button on the top menu. Answer "yes" to proceed.
Click the link for "Users" from the first column.
From this window, you can edit your user name plus user password. Think of a good password that’s both strong but easy to remember. DO NOT use the same password as your WPA2 passkey!!
Click Apply. Then hit the close button once you are all done.
This is optional, because it could possibly cause issues later on in the future if Verizon FIOS customer service needs to check your router from their offices. I’m not sure if it will affect their procedures, so follow at your own risk. I’m leaving this in the turtorial mainly for my own personal reference. If I ever need to reconfigure my Verizon FIOS router, I want to be reminded of this step.
Click the Advanced button on the top menu. Answer "yes" to proceed.
From the first column (under the Toolbox icon), choose Remote Administration.
Make sure all the boxes are UNCHECKED and click the Apply button.
Lastly, after all these wonderful secure changes you’ve made, you’ll want to keep them safe just in case you’re forced to reset the router back to factory settings. So, please re-read the above step #3 titled "Optional: Save Router Settings Before Making Changes" and save the settings as a .conf file to your hard drive.
IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER!
If you ever need to RESET the router back to factory default settings, then all of these edits will be removed, and your router will go back to WEP
You’ll either have to make all the adjustments again or if you saved a "backup" of the router settings, then you can load that file. To load a saved configuration file, in the Advanced menu, choose Configuration File from the 3rd column, then click the "Load Configuration File" link. Browse to where you saved your file, then click Apply.
Congratulations! You’re done! And your FIOS home network should now be safe and secure!
Commments are closed for this article.