Taming Your Router with Style and Grace

So I got a nice request for a post, though I do apologize for the delay in posting it.  The question:

I just read your password security blog and I was wondering…How do I change my router name/password to something other than admin/admin? I think it was something different at some point but the other day the router reset so now it’s back to admin/admin.

First off, thanks for the question.  It’s always a pleasure to know that:

  1. People actually read this blog
  2. My pitiful excuse for geek knowledge can be used to help others

That being said, I’ll dive right in.  This is actually a great question, and honestly this blog has been leading up to this exact moment and question for quite some time.  We’ve covered IP Addresses and how computers talk and all that fun stuff.  Remember, your home network is protected from the OUT THERE stuff on the Internet by a very important piece of equipment called the router.


The Router: Your Virtual Gatekeeper & Digital Hagrid

As you recall, the Router allows you to go outside your little home castle and access other stuff on the Internet.  Web surfing, Skype, streaming music, Bittorrent (not that you would ever do that), and so on – all this and more goes through your router to get onto the Internet.  But your router can do much more than just pull up LOLCATS and Facebook.  It can also filter traffic to the Internet, if you know how.  But before we run a ten minute mile, we have to crawl to the fridge for a soda pop.  Ah that was refreshing, thanks.


router001First off, how do you find your router?  Well yeah – I mean you could go downstairs to the basement and point at the router with its gun metal gray shiny case and cute wireless antennas. But that’s not quite what I had in mind.  If you are running Windows 7, click on the Start button, and type CMD then Enter to get a Command Prompt.  XP and earlier, click Start, then select RUN, then type CMD followed by Enter.  Windows 8?  Good luck finding it.

Now from the command prompt, type IPCONFIG then press enter.  Your router is most likely the gateway you traverse to get out of your local network, named creatively enough as the DEFAULT GATEWAY.


Now that you know what your router’s IP Address is, let’s connect to it using a web browser such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, or AOL Explorer.  *snicker* I said AOL…  In the address bar for the website you want to open, type that IP Address then press Enter.


If all goes well, you’ll get a popup for a username and password.


And now we get to the fun part – what is your router’s default username and password?  It really depends on your router.  If you have a Verizon FIOS router, it usually is written on the bottom of the router on a sticker.  If you have a Netgear or Linksys or similar commercial device, try one of the following:

admin with the password of admin
admin with no password
no username, with a password of admin
cisco with a password of cisco
administrator with no password
administrator with a password of password

One of these will most likely get you in.  If it doesn’t, try looking it up on Google.  For example, in Google type Linksys Default Password (assuming you have a Linksys, otherwise try the type of router you DO have) and see what you get.


Once you get in, it should be fairly obvious how to change that password.  On my cute Netgear, there was a menu option to change it.  I highly recommend re-reading my blog post on password security, and creating a strong password.



Lock Down Your Wireless!

router006While you’re in the router, be sure to take a look around.  If it’s a wireless router, pay particular attention to your wireless settings.  I highly recommend locking down your wireless with a very strong wireless key.  If your wireless router is wide open (meaning there is no password) anyone could connect to it and do nefarious things.  Oh hey – and guess who the cops will come visit?  That’s right, you.  Lock your crap down tight.

Cheap and Easy Content Filtering

router008Another interesting feature of most home routers is this: Content Filtering.  Did you know you can block any web traffic that contains keywords?  I’m obviously not going to list every bad word here, but a very simple Google keyword search for “content filter keyword list” will give you a list of most (if not all) bad words you would want to block.  I then took these nasty words and variations and plugged them into my content filter.  I set my schedule to Always, and clicked Apply.  Instant content filter!

Who Are You?

router009Another feature built into most household routers is a listing of connected devices.  It can’t hurt to take a look at exactly what computers are connected to your router and are using your Internet.  If the router can figure out the device name, it will.  It will also list it by IP Address, and MAC Address.  If you don’t recognize some of the devices, you might want to make sure things are locked down tight – especially your wireless.  No freeloaders!

I hope this blog post was helpful to you.  As always, please feel free to reach out to me with your technical questions!

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