With 4.3 internet-enabled devices per person in use nationwide, it’s more important than ever to protect your home network from hackers – especially since many connected devices lack the robust anti-malware protection used on tablets, laptops, and smartphones. But you don’t have the advantage of an IT support staff to call on when it’s your home network or personal devices at risk. And with cyber attacks getting more sophisticated, it’s no longer enough to simply install an antivirus program on each separate device and call it a day.
No, your home network security has to get more sophisticated to keep up with advances in cybercrime strategies and techniques. You need a secure gateway and network that hackers can’t get into – or at least one that will prove so challenging to hack that they’ll give up and look elsewhere for easier pickings. You also need to be careful when you use the internet, so you don’t fall prey to common social engineering scams. Read on to learn how you can protect your devices, and your network, from prowling cyber intruders.
1) Keep Your Gateway Updated
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to protect your home network is to keep your home wireless router or gateway updated. This means you need to buy a new router or gateway at least every three or four years. Legacy equipment often doesn’t get the security patches and other software and firmware updates it needs to stay safe. Hackers will already know their way around older equipment’s security flaws.
Make sure you keep the software and firmware on your router or gateway updated – set the device to install new updates as they appear. Updates typically include fixes for known security problems, so they can go a long way towards securing your equipment.
2) Be Careful Online
Even when your network security is airtight, it’s still vulnerable to the infiltration through the weakest link – you, the user. Be careful what you click on and what you download – especially in regards to emails. Most internet users who fall victim to cyber-attacks do so when they’re fooled by a particularly elegant phishing email – one alerting them of a several-hundred-dollar transaction from their PayPal account, or a big new order from Amazon. Phishing scams are among the most common online scams, and you should learn how to recognize them. You should also be careful what you download, limit what personal information you share online, choose strong passwords, and practice safe browsing.
3) Use a Network Security Solution
A comprehensive network security solution will provide antivirus and antimalware protection, spam and scam filters, parental controls, privacy controls, and more for multiple devices. In addition to filtering out phishing emails, good internet security software with a maximum level of protection will also provide password management, performance optimization for your computer and devices, and transaction security for an additional layer of protection when you shop or bank online.
4) Quarantine Your IoT Devices
Internet of things (IoT) devices are rife with security issues, often because these devices aren’t designed with a sophisticated level of security in mind. Many may not even have the ability to download software updates, may feature insecure data transfer and storage, and may have issues with hardware or operating systems that could put your personal data at risk. These devices are also vulnerable to botnet attacks, in which hackers infect thousands of devices with malware in order to attack servers by overwhelming them with requests.
There’s no need to panic and throw out all your home security cameras, smart lights, and Robo-servants. Instead, create a guest network to quarantine your IoT devices. That way, if someone hacks into your smart fridge or Alexa, they won’t be able to access your smartphone or laptop, and the sensitive data it contains.
5) Secure Network Access
Did you know that hackers can find your router’s default admin credentials online? Default usernames and passwords for wireless routers and gateways are easy information to come by, and hackers can use that easily obtainable data to access your network and make your life harder. Access your router’s admin dashboard and change the default login credentials.
From your router’s dashboard, you can also change your router’s security settings to lock down your network. Make sure you’re using the latest security protocols to keep your network safe.
Getting hacked is a scary prospect, and with cybercriminals getting ever more creative in their quest to make crime pay, you need to get smart about network security. The right security protocols could mean the difference between financial prosperity and calamity for you and your family.