Opening your home for inspection to prospective buyers? Then now would be a good time to change your wireless router’s default password.

A recent study by electronic supplier Reichelt Elektronik found that 55 percent of adults hadn’t changed the default password on their wireless router.

55%? Yes, that is half of the country.

Using the default password is incredibly risky because, in most cases, that password is written on the side of the device. If you're still using the default, then anyone that has sight of your router can quickly and easily learn your wi-fi password. Inviting strangers into your home and showing them your wi-fi network's password is not recommended.

What’s the worst that can happen?

If someone has your wi-fi password, they can access your home network in the same way that you can. They may do this during the inspection but are more likely to do this sometime after - when your network is bristling with devices. All that your attacker needs to do is to get within range of the router, and they are in.

honey... how long has that van been parked outside?

Having persons unknown on your home network is bad news. In minutes, they can scan your devices for vulnerabilities. If you haven’t kept up with security updates, then they may well find one. And if they do, here’s some of what they can quickly get up to:

  • Downloading documents from your device – Word, Excel, PDF, etc.
  • Downloading your password file – the document in which you’ve made a note of all your passwords
  • Downloading photos and video from your device
  • Uploading photos and video to your machine
  • Starting the built-in video camera and taking stills and live video
  • Holding your documents and data to ransom with ransomware
  • Downloading passwords from your browser

It can get ugly.

 The password on this flavour of Netgear router can be guessed in seconds

The password on this flavour of Netgear router can be guessed in seconds

It’s really good security practice to change the default password on any device, and especially good practice to change it on your wireless router. Many default passwords are very easy to guess. For example, this Netgear router (above) came with a default password that could be guessed by any savvy attacker within 10 seconds. That’s a problem. But if you’ve got strangers wandering around your home and your network’s password is on display, then you're asking for trouble.

Preparing for a home inspection

In preparation for a home inspection, if you haven’t already done so, it is highly recommended that you change the default password on your wireless router. Search for ‘change <router manufacturer> password’ using your favourite search engine to locate instructions for doing this with your make and model.

Use a secure password

Keep in mind that your new password must be secure. Wireless passwords can be quickly and easily guessed if they are based on dictionary words or are too short. For assistance in generating a secure wi-fi password that you don't need to remember or write down, check out this video tutorial:

If all of this is too hard right now, then put your router in the car each time that you have an inspection. And then make a mental note to change the default in the coming days. Not doing so is like sleeping with the door unlocked.

Already done an inspection?

Oh. And if you’ve already done a home inspection with the router on display, and are still using the default password, then you should consider changing that password today. 

Simon Gibbard