Securing Your Home Network
By: Linda Stevenson, Chief Information Officer
We all spend time on the internet these days. It’s likely you have internet access at home that the whole family uses for work, school, entertainment, and more. Most of our electronic devices connect to the internet including computers, TVs, smartphones, gaming systems, and even wearable devices. In previous columns, we’ve discussed how to secure your devices and keep them clean and up to date. The next step is to ensure your home internet network is protected so you and your family can be online more safely and securely.
Secure your wireless router
In this day and age, most of us probably have wireless internet in our homes which means we have a wireless router. While this makes connecting to the internet with multiple devices convenient, it can also leave your network and your personal information vulnerable to others within range of your router.
Here are some tips for securing your wireless router from the National Cybersecurity Alliance:
- Change the name of your router. The default ID—called a service set identifier (SSID) or extended service set identifier (ESSID)—is assigned by the router’s manufacturer. Change your router to a name that is unique to you and won’t be easily guessed by others.
- Change the preset password on your router. Leaving the default password unchanged makes is much easier for hackers to access your network. You should change is as soon as possible after setting up your router. A strong password is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long.
- Review security options. When choosing your router’s level of security, opt for WPA2, if available, or WPA. These levels are more secure than the WEP option.
- Create a guest password. Some routers allow for guests to use networks via separate guest passwords. If you have many visitors to your home, it’s a good idea to set up a guest network.
- Use a firewall. Firewalls help keep hackers from using your device to send out your personal information without your permission. While antivirus software scans incoming email and files, a firewall is like a guard, watching for attempts to access your system and blocking communications with sources you don’t permit. Your operating system and/or security software likely comes with a pre-installed firewall, but make sure you turn on these features.
Additional online security tips
Take these additional steps to protect yourself while using the internet:
- Keep security software current. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system is the best defense against viruses, malware, and other online threats.
- Protect all devices that connect to the internet. Computer, smartphones, gaming systems, and any other web-enabled devices need protection from viruses and malware.
- Plug & scan. USBs and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them before using them.
- Protect your finances. When banking and shopping, check to be sure the sites are security enabled. Look for web addresses with https:// which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. http:// is not secure.
- Back it up. Protect your valuable work, music, photos, and other digital information by making electronic copies of your important files and storing them safely.