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Modem safety tips

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Is your home network secure? With the wealth of personal information stored on our computers and other connected devices, it’s important to find out! When it comes to checking the security of your home network, your modem or WiFi router should be your first point of focus. After all, it handles all the data going in and out of your broadband connection, so it’s vital that its settings are in ship-shape.

To help protect your network, we’ve put together a list of the settings you should check whenever you get a new modem or WiFi router up and running.

Protect your modem settings

In order to access your modem/router settings in the first place, you’ll need to log in to your modem’s default gateway address with its admin password (and sometimes, a username, too). The default login credentials are always found on the modem’s barcode sticker, such as the example below. However, if you know a thing or two about password strength, you’ll know that the common default passwords (e.g. “admin” or “password”) aren’t very strong at all. Not to mention that if the admin password is the same as the one printed on the barcode sticker, guests, housemates or children could easily access and change your router settings.

barcodestickerexample_admin

It’s best to change the password to a stronger option that you’ll be able to remember. We’ve got a guide on how to change the admin password on every modem sold by us right here.

Note: If you use a feature known as Remote Administration, it’s VERY important that you have a strong password in place!

Remote Admin: ditch it if you don’t need it

Speaking of Remote Admin, it’s important to switch it off if you don’t absolutely need it. This feature allows users to access your modem settings from a remote location. While it’s useful for some tech-savvy individuals, most of us don’t need the function. Insecure Remote Admin settings have been the subject of a number of security scares over the years.

All modems supplied by us have Remote Administration disabled by default. If you’re really not sure if you’ve enabled it or not, this guide includes steps for checking that Remote Admin is switched off. If you have a third party router, please visit the manufacturer’s website for support information.

Set up your WiFi right

So, how else can you prevent unwanted access to your home network? Your wireless network, or WiFi, is a common target, especially in areas with a denser population. No matter where you’re located, your WiFi network should always have a password to connect, and using a stronger encryption method such as WPA2 will give you better protection.

Most WiFi routers come with a default network ready to go right out of the box. Fortunately, they’re set up with a password, but much like the default admin password, the default WiFi password is printed on the modem’s barcode sticker, making it accessible to guests, housemates and children. While connected to your WiFi network, users can’t just use your broadband data: they can also access other devices connected to your home network, such as printers or storage drives, and potentially even log in to your router settings.

barcodestickerexample_wifi

You can customise your WiFi network with a strong, unique password that you can share with trusted individuals. You’ll find instructions on how to do this for all modems sold by us in their Quick Setup Guides or User Manuals here. If you have a third party router, please visit the manufacturer’s website for support information.

Pro tips

  • Having trouble memorising your new WiFi password? Write it down and keep it somewhere secure, like a home safe or a locked drawer.
  • If you have one of our TG-789 or TG-1 Broadband Gateways, you can set up a special guest WiFi network to let visitors use your WiFi connection without giving them access to your main home network.
  • If you’re really stuck, you can factory reset your modem to return all the default settings, including the default WiFi network. However, you’ll need to set up your modem again after doing this, so make sure you have your modem’s setup guide ready before you factory reset! iiNet modem guides are available here.

Keep your modem up to date

You’re probably familiar with software updates, but what about “firmware”? Firmware is a special type of software that’s programmed into a device’s read-only memory. It gives the device everything it needs to operate, such as telling your modem’s how to run your broadband service. That includes security protocols, so it’s good to make sure your modem has the latest firmware.

If you’ve got a modem supplied by us, you’re in luck: our current range of modems update their firmware automatically, so you don’t need to do a thing to make sure it’s on the latest version. However, if you use a third party modem, you should visit the manufacturer’s website to see if any firmware updates are available, particularly if you’re using an older model.

Stay safe, everyone!

Do have a security tip to share? Tell us in the comments.

62 comments

  1. Ted Mark says:

    so a few tips that I use when setting up a modem or router it’s cut and paste, passwords from a reputable security provider both have a max of 16 digits for passwords and will reject more. Names I use dinosaur names cos I like’em, up to 64 or less for wireless passwords if if attaching a router and turn the modem wireless off. Router most settings will be changed by the Modem so its 20 digit wireless passwords and 16 digit for the interface all in a MS worddoc. Installed on a USB drive with password security check both the Network folder for “guests” and a speed check after your online these are baseline readings if they swing wildly then you may have a guest. If you cut and paste to open the modem interface and cant get in the push the reset button and start or gain entry and do a factory reset. Most modem / routers have MAC accept or deny folders using a Wireless App take note of all the surrounding Mac address’s enter them into wireless folder and select deny access.

  2. Darrell Lewis says:

    The first things I did to the modem was change the passwords, then changed the default DNS servers to the free adguard DNS servers as that stops most ads, malware and phishing sites.

    On your computers, change the search engine to duckduckgo as they don’t track your searches, unlike google.

  3. Sonja says:

    When I go on my laptop top go into Admin and change the password it won’t let me. Says I’m not using correct ‘old password. Same thing happens when I try to change the name of the modem, telling me I’m not using correct ‘old name’. Very annoying when I’m doing everything correct.

  4. John SH says:

    Reading through the reviews of DDG it seems that the security side of it is very good but the search side is USA biased and not reliable in the results. I’ll give it a miss.

  5. John says:

    For the money I am paying I expect that iinet would have the most sophisticated system going, but it appears that their commitment to the user is rather cursory. It appears that money is the first priority and the customer is at the bottom of the rung.

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hey John!

      Is there anything that we can help you with? Our commitment to the customer has never changed, so we’re here to help. If there’a anything we can do, please feel free to reach out to us via our Social Media e-mail address, iiOnline@iinet.net.au with your details, and we’ll lend a hand.

      – Leo

      – Leo

  6. Thanks iinet for caring Stay well and safe,from your loyal and loving customer Jenn Owen

  7. Kurt says:

    You cannot update firmware as iinet is owned by tpg. It is tpg firmware in modem. Did my research and that is what i learned. Regret coming to iinet with constant dos attacks. Never an issue with last provider. As well as them trying to double bill me last month

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hey Kurt,

      We’re keen to lend a hand with this. Have you been able to speak to our team, or use our online help resources at http://help.iinet.net.au ? These are worth a look and if those options don’t yield results, you’re more than welcome to make direct contact with us via our Social Media email address: iiOnline@iinet.net.au. Please include your details and reference your post here – we’ll gladly do what we can to help.

      – Leo

  8. John says:

    I have been sent a new modem by iinet TG789vac v3.

    To replace e my buddii lite.

    To set it up is it just a matter of connecting it to my nbn box and it configured automatically

  9. David says:

    Another common router feature known as UPnP (standing for “Unplug and Play”) is often (unecessarily) enabled. This feature allows devices on the local network to configure the router remotely, and critically, enables changes to the port settings that aqlow network traffic to enter the local network. The facility has existed on routers since about 2002 or 2003.

    The problem is that UPnP opens up a security hole where malware/viruses/bad stuff on a PC on the local network can quietly set up communications connections for whatever nefarious purposes they may have in mind. Worse, some routers can expose the UPnP protocol to the internet, which means anyone can configure your router if it is prone to that. Even worse than that, UPnP does not require your router user id or password to operate.

    In my opinion you should hunt down the UPnP setting and disable it.

    That said, there are perhaps situations where having the service enabled temporarily might help you out. Some applications like Skype, gaming consoles like XBox make it easy for you to set up you network by doing the router configuration work for you. But that access is typically only necessary once during setup (if it is actually needed at all) – if an install isn’t working, you can consider enabling UPnP temporarily, and once everything is working, disable it again.

    There is a very useful site at Gibson Research corporation that provides links to a wide range of tools and explanatory information to help you understand and manage your networking.

    One particularly useful tool is called “ShieldsUp”. The tool not only allows you to check whether your UPnP service is exposed to the internet, but can also launch a series of probes at your router to check if the common service ports are in true “Stealth” mode (which is to say the router doesn’t respond at all to a communications request). I always run this tool against any new router I’m setting up.

    There is an interesting YouTube videofrom January 2013 by Steve Gibson (the GRC site owner, and security expert) that covers all this. It is a little technical, but I’d say anyone can get a sense of what is going on and why it is important to disable the facility on the router.

    Excellent news is that my iiNet modem, with UPnP disabled, is safe from external attack, and otherwise is working happily with all my connected devices. :)

  10. I found this article on Modem Safety tips very good. It was easy to read, concise, well segmented and it had all the tech. stuff to make changes if needed, hidden away from the text in various links.

    Well done Gina & iiNet, thankyou.

  11. Robert Eden says:

    Looking at your advice on updating firmware on a modem, you claim to “have information on every modem iinet has sold”.
    However this is not true.
    Still using the iinet supplied Model Netcomm Wireless N600 Dualband. Do you have information on checking this modem please?

    I have resisted updating the modem to your current 789 model due to the very poor reviews by users appearing on the internet.
    The Netcomm N600 is still working!

  12. Mei says:

    I’d connected a USB stick to the USB port on my TP Link Archer VR 1600 router (provided by iiNet). This wireless USB storage has been working well until yesterday. Now, we can’t write to the USB. We’ve checked, and there is nothing wrong with the USB stick, our devices, and router connections. Could iiNet SUPPORT help with this problem? Thank you.

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Absolutely worth having a chat to Support, Mei! Even just a simple restart of the modem may help too.

      – Leo

  13. Tony cook says:

    So far not having any luck with help from iinet setting up the new modem they sent me.
    Hung on for about 5 hrs for them to get back to me 3 days later still waiting.
    My old modem is still working but has slowed down i have two cables into the back of my old modem one for internet and one to the router which all my computers are plugged into but when i take these 2 cables and plug into iinet modem all the lights light up but it dose not recognize my Belkin router so can not access the web.I am not on nbn i use transact adsl. Could you please explain why it is taking so long to get support for this issue.
    Regards
    Tony

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hey Tony,

      Sorry to hear this! If you’re still having no luck, feel free to drop us a line via our Social MEdia e-mail address: iiOnline@iinet.net.au with your details and mentioning your review here and we can lend a hand.

      – Leo

  14. George K. says:

    To Whom It May Concern

    I am very disappointed, iinet!
    Having been the iinet (including its predecessors, and now its current owner TPG) client for over 14 years, only now such modem safety tips have been sent to me ! I wonder what has, suddenly, caused this ‘concern’ about the client ? An impending court case, perhaps ?

    Naturally, I have been always applying the safety measures and precautions related to the computers I possessed during that time. But I was not aware that (apparently, judging from what you advises now) that might not have been enough to protect my home internet system.

    I have always treated computer as a tool allowing me to do the job (similar e.g. to my cars that I drive, religiously having them serviced by the professionals and by myself, but have never been interested what is under the bonnet), and not as an object of my targeted interest per se. Hence I expected that the service provider, iinet, would timely (namely: at the time of delivering a new modem) provide me with instructions what to do in relation to such their product.

    Fortunately, I have never been a member of any social media (I too much value my time to waste it on that) what, with my computer safety precautions always in place, may have saved me from the ‘nasties’ that await any internet user. But I never counted on ‘luck’ in anything (except when filling a lotto coupon), and do not want to continue counting on luck when dealing with iinet. Can you assure me about that this would not be the case in future ?
    Thank you.
    Yours faithfully

    George K.

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi George!

      Thanks for your thoughts, we do appreciate it.

      We can absolutely state that there’s no luck involved here. This is just a normal blog post, here we’ve simply chosen to discuss Modem Safety Tips. There’s certainly nothing behind it, that’s for sure!

      – Leo

  15. Kevin says:

    Hi, it sounds to me like you have everything pretty well covered with default setups….for the average person who isn’t really that tech savvy that is. We’re retirees who fit this category and installed your modem about 4 years ago. It works fine and I’d prefer not to tamper with anything if not necessary. We feel confident that I modem is in a relatively safe location away from prying eyes.

  16. Warren says:

    Like Darrel, the first thing I do is change the passwords, once everything is connected and running. I also change other default settings, like WiFi name, default IP address pool, and so on (I was a Sys Admin in a previous job).

    Regarding passwords, I generate my own, and save them in a reputable Password Manager (mine came with my anti-virus). I don’t use themes, as they “can be” guessed. When changing settings on my modem, I always make sure I can directly connect to it via a network cable. If the WiFi changes, I’m still connected and can troubleshoot any problem.

    I like my current modem as I was also able to change the default account name on it. One thing though, iiNet did a firmware upgrade and it reset ALL of my changes, which was really annoying. I’m also thinking of turning off the WiFi, and having my own WiFi router connected to the iiNet modem. I get complete control, without settings being changed. But that’s $$$ away, still.

    I also use DuckDuckGo, but I try to be very specific due to the USA bias (eg I put “Australia”, “Melbourne” or “Wagga” as a leading term in the search).

    Finally, and certainly NOT last, I also read the Terms and Conditions. Did you know that Nintendo reserves the right to send to their servers ANYTHING stored on the Wii for analysis? Technically this includes any WiFi settings and passwords. Go figure!

  17. Kaz Herbst says:

    Most of this is beyond me, so have to, and do trust you – thanks all – Kaz

  18. Andrew says:

    Great to know you’re applying firmware updates automatically to the stock modem!

    Thanks for informing your customers.

  19. Robin says:

    I’ve had a reliable and excellent service on NBN with iinet as has my daughter interstate.

    No problems this end.

  20. Mandeep says:

    Hi, can we control what we get on our internet?
    I just want to delete fortnite game from our network permanently,
    What should I do?
    Thanks

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Mandeep,

      At a modem level, depending on what hardware you have, you can setup address filtering, so that certain webpages addresses or servers and their IP addresses are unable to be accessed.

      – Leo

  21. Tony says:

    Heres an idea,,,,,,Why don’t IINET offer free VPN / payed VPN for account holders for added security and value adding?

  22. Mick says:

    @John SH. Using DuckDuckGo for a while now. No issues. There is a toggle switch to put it on Australia. If the results are really bad you can always switch to Google for that one search. But 99% of the cases it is just good.

  23. david horton says:

    Does the Huawei HG659 supplied by iinet do software updates? I haven’t found any menu to do an update on demand.

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi David,

      The HG659 is a NBN HFC-only modem and firmware updates were pushed automatically to the modem. As its an end of life unit and no longer offered, there are no further firmware updates available.

      – Leo

  24. Kevin says:

    Have changed my password to a personalised one but would love to stop the 15-20 spam emails that come through every day….

  25. Dear IINet Team,
    I and some of my team have just started having our emails being sent to the receiver’s SPAM folder. This just started about a week ago and I was wondering if something has changed with IINet email restrictions or some other security restraints?
    As this is not my area of expertise it is really frustrating. I’m never sure if my emails will be received. I would appreciate your help.
    Thank you,
    Kathleen

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Kathleen,

      This is usually due to the receiver’s mail servers treating our e-mails as spam, due to a compromised host. We take these issues seriously and as soon as a compromised service is identified, its suspended from our network. This usually resolves itself in 3-5 working days and your mail should’ve returned to normal behavior, but if not, we’d like to know, so we can have our engineers investigate this.

      If this is still ongoing, please feel free to make direct contact with us via our Social Media e-mail address, iiOnline@iinet.net.au, with your details and we’ll gladly lend a hand!

      – Leo

  26. Gordon says:

    Sonja, just check that you’re using a wired connection between your laptop and modem. Wireless is unreliable when configuring your modem.

  27. Esther Scott says:

    Most un tech savvy. Concerned I have a Chinese WIFI box supplied by you. Should I be?

  28. Chris Floyd says:

    Those interested in improving internet security should consider downloading a Password Manager. This is a type of software that lets you record all your login data & other sensitive information in a virtual vault which YOU have the only Master Password. When logged into your Pasword Manager you can login to a website with shortcut keys so you can use obscure random logins because the Master Password is the only one you need to remember.

  29. Kate says:

    Thanks Gina for the tips, most helpful. i have always found iinet service to be amazing.

  30. Zoebe Ingrid says:

    My iinet supplied modem is so old, it probably should be in a museum (Bob lite). So probably no firmware updates I suspect. I tried to get an answer from the technical support team re Wifi extension, but they basically suggested I should buy a new modem…given that we sooner or later need to move to the dreaded NBN, that wasn’t very helpful.

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Zoebe,

      You are right – Bob Lite is now pretty aged as far as modems are concerned, with support for this hardware stopping many years ago. If you are having issues that can’t be resolved beyond a full factory reset, then it may be time to consider a new modem.

      – Leo

  31. Adrian McGregor says:

    Good evening. Thank you for the security tips. I notice in the above comments that John has been sent a new modem (TG789vac v3) to replace his old budilite. Are iiNet replacing the old modems?
    Regards,
    Adrian

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hey Adrian,

      Feel free to have a chat to our teams about this, as we’re sure that they’ll be able to lend a hand. Alternatively, you can recontract via Toolbox to obtain a free modem as well, if you want to go that way!

      – Leo

  32. My understanding of technology is that data communications across networks initially was based on twisted pair copper telephone wiring.

    Modem is an acronym for modulate/demodulate. They were the devices at the sending and receiving ends of the communication link. Data was transferred at much slower speeds than today. Each string of bits had to be verified it was received accurately. No further data could be sent until the sending modem had received a parity signal from the receiving modem indicating transmission complete. It was slow!

    Nowadays data is transmitted at much higher speeds via sophisticated packet switching technologies using routers to manage incoming and outgoing traffic. They are not the same as primitive outdated modem devices.

    My question is why are routers and modems interchangeable terminology, indicating they are one and the same devices?

    Could you please explain why this is so
    regards Barrie

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hey Barrie,

      This is a very good question!

      There is no distinct answer here, but as time has evolved, modems have taken on some of the routing capabilities that routers traditionally offered. This is especially true for home use. Instead of a single port modem connected to a 4 port router (who here can remember the D’Link DSL200?), modems gained the ability to have multiple ports and the routing that went with it (like the later D’Link DSLG604T, commonly known as the Goat). They then started to be called modem routers and thus, the confusion and interchangeability began.

      – Leo

  33. Chris says:

    When setting up passwords, ‘switch’ a couple of letters. Such as, if you have a guest network and you’d like the password to be ‘GuestNetwork’, then make it ‘GuestNetwrok’… Only a brute force attack is going to crack that…

  34. David says:

    Having WPS on is a really bad idea; it has a massive security hole. (Not just using it; even having it turned on.)

  35. Rob says:

    for more security i enable and set up MAC address filtering. Stops any anyone using your network unless you go to modem settings and input their computers MAC address. refer users manual downloaded from IInet.

  36. frank Raab says:

    Guys

    Im glad i’m a 78 year old nerd who has been using IInet since it’s inception and never had a problem with modems etc. I’m only to pleased that their teams are ready for me when I need them. Go IInet!

  37. Lyn Broadhurst says:

    Nearly all the plans, hints and ” to do’s ” are not related to NBN Fixed Wireless. Does this article relate to that set up too? Is there a difference anyway? Thank you, Westnet [for 16 years] which is owned by iinet which is owned by TPG.

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hey Lyn,

      On a basic level, most of the tips are universal, so they’d apply no matter what connection type that you have. The only real difference is that your modem connects to a specific NBN device to connect to the network.

      – Leo

  38. Jeff says:

    Is the TG789vac v3 5G compatible?

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Jeff,

      The TG789 has built in 5GHz Wireless. Don’t confuse 5GHz wireless for 5G mobile though – these are two different things.

      – Leo

  39. Kevan Gardner says:

    I would have thought that one of the safest ways to protect the use of your modem & your home network is to use the White List MAC address access feature that, as far as I know, will only allow specified MAC addressed devices through the modem to the network

  40. Paula Hanigan says:

    Hi this is not about security but is about modems. Our ADSL2 internet is quite slow (NBN not in our area) and I’ve now been told by a few people to look into upgrading To a better quality modem and speed should improve. I also saw recent Telstra ad on TV suggesting same thing. We still have our original modem provided by Westnet Many years ago. Any ideas?

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Paula!

      Whilst a change in modem’s can bring about increases in speed, there are other factors at play here, especially with ADSL connections, so we’d suggest not rushing out to buy a new modem just yet. Instead, consider the physical factors that can limit your connection, such as cable distance from the exchange, the quality of the copper network to your premises, as well as other concerns. The best way forward is to have a chat to our team; see what you’re currently connected at and ask them to check your cable distance to give an idea of what you should be connecting at. We’re more than happy to arrange contact for you, if need be!

      – Leo

  41. joe cachia says:

    been around for ever,had a problem with my emails,(send and receive)would that be because my phone has 18 Gbites of data and was trying to use it as a modem, i am mostly using my old samsung (15 years old,and still only XP as windows 10 is not compatible),i have found that you have to be patience with smart phones as they are not all that smart,they only store info

  42. Susan Jones says:

    since the change over from adam to iinet my speed has decreased dramatically from 11 to 24 uploads and 4-5 upload I am paying for 50 downloads since this time @ $79.99 a month this is blatent day light robbery I have complained over the last year but have not received any rebates just found this site I live in hope of a result.

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Susan!

      We always want to see our customers have the very best service possible, so the fact that you aren’t happy with your connection is very concerning to us!

      So that we can lend a hand, we’d love to hear from you, so we can locate your account and have our team step in to assist. If you can, please reply here with an invoice or task reference number, or make direct contact with us via our Social Media e-mail address: iiOnline@iinet.net.au with your details. We’ll then locate your account and arrange for our team to be in touch.

      We look forward to lending a hand!

      – Leo

  43. Ray Zingelmann says:

    Have the Archer VR 1600v ver2 and find that I cannot connect a voip phone call to 132258. All I get is a continuous beep. I find this with all 13 six digit numbers. It only occured while I was speaking with a iinet tech. and was asked to reset the modem, naturally then disconnecting me. Have spoken with a couple of techs at iinet, but to no avail. Could you email me direct to the below email address?

    • Leo Yarnold says:

      Hi Ray,

      Thanks for taking a moment to be in touch!

      We’ve tried looking for the account that should be tied to a VoIP service so we can troubleshoot this remotely for you, but your details don’t give us a match. As we’d like to locate the service so we can see what is happening remotely, we’d love to hear from you via our Social Media e-mail address: iiOnline@iinet.net.au . Please include your details and mention your post here and we can then arrange for our team to step in to lend a hand.

      – Leo

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