10 Ways to protect your home/office network
Posted by Peter Bassill on 31/08/2021Our homes are more technologically advanced than ever. The family home now contains a wide range of gadgets and devices that require an internet connection. What was once just a computer now includes a tablet, phone, fridge, TV and baby monitor. With all of these technological advancements come new threats and risks. People are unaware of the security risks that these devices pose. No one would leave the front door to their house open, yet leaving Wi-Fi networks unsecured poses the same security risks.Cybercriminals are opportunists. They are ready to take advantage of any lapse in security they can identify. If Cybercriminals can gain access to your home network, they have access to your entire digital world. They can steal personal and financial information and infect your devices with viruses and malware. They can commit cyber-crime from your device or use your network to launch cyberattacks on others, with you being left liable.Securing your home or your home office network is essential when it comes to keeping out attackers and protecting your data. There are several steps you can take to protect your home and your family from cybercriminals. To keep it safe from hackers.
1. Change default username and password
It is the same for everyone, from home to the small business and on to the enterprise. The UK National Cyber Security Center considers it imperative that they wrote in their Cyber Essentials Standard. The first step to securing your home network is to change the default username and password to something more secure.Device providers automatically assign a username and password to their devices. Cybercriminals can easily find these default passwords online giving them a potential way in.Changing the username and password of the various devices on your network makes it more difficult for attackers to identify whose device it is and gain entry to the network. The criminals have sophisticated tools to test thousands of possible passwords and username combinations. Using a long password that combines at least three words into a passphrase is vital to make it more challenging to hack.
2. Turn on Wireless Network Encryption
Encryption is one of the most effective ways of protecting your network. The only type of encryption you shoud use for wireless security is WPA2. WPA and WEP are still options on many wireless routers. Please do not use them! Only use WPA2. If you have older devices over six years old, they may not be able to work with WPA2. If this is the can then it is time to upgrade your home devices.To check if your router uses WPA2 encryption, check your network settings and check the wireless properties. It will enable you to select the best encryption method when you join a wireless network.
3. Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
A VPN protects your initial connection to the internet by encrypting the traffic between you and your VPN service. It also alters your visible IP address, giving you the identity of your VPN service. VPN clients are available for laptops, phones and tablets.
4. Hide your network from view
When you initially set up your home/home-office network, you must create a publicly visible network name. It is known as an SSID (Service Set identifier). Most devices have a default network name that the manufacturer has allocated. A default SSID helps the cybercriminals identify the type of wireless router in use.Using a hidden SSID is an excellent way of protecting your network. A hidden SSID means only those who know the SSID can connect. Coupled with changing the SSID, it makes it a lot more difficult for an attacker to know your router. This further reduces the chance of attack.
5. Turn off your Wi-Fi when not in use
It sounds simple; protecting your home network from attack is as simple as turning it off when you're not at home. A Wi-Fi network isnt need 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If your home/home-office Wi-Fi is off or disabled while you're away from the network, it reduces the chances for opportunistic hackers to break into your network.
6. Keep your devices up to date
IoT devices, such as wireless routers, cameras etc., should all be updated to protect the network security of your home. Like any other type of software, device firmware can contain vulnerabilities that hackers are keen to exploit. Most devices won't have the option of an auto-update, so you'll need to manually update the software to ensure your home / home-office network is protected.
7. Use Firewalls
Most routers, Wi-Fi and Broadband, will contain a built-in network firewall to protect connections and prevent network attacks. You must enable your router's firewall to add another layer of protection to your home security. Defence in depth is about adding layers of protection.
8. Place the Wi-Fi router in the centre of your home
The location of your router impacts your network security. Where a router is positioned near a door or window, the Wi-Fi signal can propogate further outside of your operation, and can be intercepted by someone with malicious intent. Where possible, a Wi-Fi router should be as close to the centre of your home/office as possible. It will reduce the chance of cybercriminals connecting to your network.
9. Use MAC Address Filtering
The majority of routers support Media Access Control (MAC) address. Using MAC Address filtering allows you to control who can connect to your network. This restricts the network only to allow connections from approved devices.
10. Disable Remote Administration
There has been a lot of vulnerabilities (security weaknesses) in remote administration functions published over the years. Remote administration services should either be turned off or restricted to known devices.