How Does Your Wi-Fi Router work?

By | November 6, 2017

We all are users of Wi-Fi and we depend a lot on it. But do we know how it works? The device called ‘Router’ is the player behind the game, it connects networks and send and receive data from an ISP.

But most of them are not secure and we should understand its working in order to protect ourselves from the malicious attacks. WikiLeak’s recently alleged CIA of possessing a hacking tool named “Cherry Blossom”. The tool can apparently hack routers and perform software exploits on the victim’s device.

wi-fi_router

It is highly unlikely that an average person will be attacked by this attack. Yet you should know how the routers work.

How does the Internet Work?

For convenience of understanding let’s think of the router as your post office for the internet. It chooses the most effective and fastest path to dispatch packets of data.

Take a scenario in which you search for listening to a song on your smartphone. Here is how it proceeds:

  1. You smartphone receives your request and converts it into a radio signal using a Protocol (802.11 protocol) that regulates the working of your Wi-Fi. 
  2. The radio signal is then sent to router with your smartphone’s IP address.
  3. Now, DNS (Domain Name Server) comes into the game. The purpose is to convert it into its IP address (numeric). E.g. www.yahoo.com 
  4. The router then sends this the request to your ISP and though their proxy to yahoo.com 
  5. In this journey from your home to your ISP to yahoo.com, your request will hop along numerous routers. Each router will choose the fastest path. 
  6. After going through a number of routers, an agreed connection between your home Internet and yahoo.com will be established. 
  7. Then data transfer will start between the two devices and you’ll hear the requested song playing.

Explaining the back-end of your Wi-Fi Router

The machine is full of ports and jargons. Here are few of them:

  • Ethernet Ports: The wires that are connected to your routers are inserted in these ports. It is there to establish a physical internet connection medium. 
  • SSID: Service Set Identifier is an alphanumeric set of characters that is the identifier of your Wi-Fi router.
  • Telephone/ Internet Port: The RJ-45 port is used to gain Internet access using telephone wires. 
  • WPS: Wi-Fi Protected Setup allows user faster and easier access to Wi-Fi as it removes the hassle of inserting the pass-key again and again. 
  • LAN: Local Areas Network has to refer to a number of computers and devices that are networked together. Usually they are connected with wires and routers in a singular place. 
  • WAN: Abbreviated for Wide Area Network, WAN usually refers to a series of geographically distributed LAN networks. 
  • WLAN: Wireless Local Area Network, these are LANs connected through wireless medium such as routers and others.

That’s it.

Securing Your Wi-Fi

You should:

  • Change your Wi-Fi password and make it strong.
  • Personalize the SSID so that it does not have details about the model and manufacturer.
  • Ensure Encryption
  • Change the administrator password of your Wi-Fi
  • Update the firmware of your router often.

Router is the establisher of Internet between your device and the website you want to surf. Look after your router, look after you.

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