Is your home network safe? Not if you’re running legacy equipment, have a ton of connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices, or haven’t changed your default settings.
If yours is like most households, you’ve got connected TVs, smart watches, smart phones, tablets, laptops, and an array of smart home devices and smart appliances. And you probably just assume that your home network is safe. Here are five ways to be sure.
1) Update Your Router
If your router or wireless gateway is more than a couple of years old, you should replace it. By updating your equipment regularly, you can be sure that your device is still supported by the manufacturer, and its firmware is getting updated regularly with, among other things, patches for newly discovered security issues. Updating your router or gateway regularly also gives you access to updates in wireless security protocol and increased access speeds.
2) Change Its Default Settings and Login Info
You should change your wireless router or gateway’s default admin password, because the default credentials are easy for hackers to guess or obtain. Often, lists of default admin login credentials for different models of router and wireless gateway are published on the dark web for anyone to see. Accessing your router’s admin dashboard will also give you the chance to tweak other settings, such as enabling WPA2 security and disabling remote access, Universal Plug and Play (UPnP), and Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS).
3) Use a Guest Network
You should, of course, give your wireless network a secure name and a unique, strong password that you change regularly. However, if your provider allows it, you should also set up a guest network, and consider hiding your main network. A guest network lets you share a wireless connection with guests, without worrying about whether or not their devices are safe and secure.
It also gives you a place to segregate your IoT devices, so that their known security flaws don’t put the rest of your network at risk. It might be easy enough for hackers to get into your network via a robot vacuum or smart security camera, but if the camera and your smartphones aren’t connected to the same network, the hacker can’t make the leap to a device that actually contains valuable personal information. And because laptops, tablets, desktop computers, and smartphones are inherently more secure, with more robust protections and more reliable updates, your main home network will be safer, too.
4) Use a Home Network Security Solution
It’s very difficult these days to keep a home network secure on your own, especially if you have kids or just varying levels of understanding of online security among members of your household. A home network security solution can help you keep a secure network. In addition to protection for your devices and data, these security solutions can block malicious files and websites, track devices and new device logins, and provide parental controls like time limits, content filtering, and app detection.
5) Keep Firmware Updated
Firmware is what controls your router or gateway — it’s like the operating system for your device, telling it everything it needs to do. It also sets rules about network security standards, such as which devices can connect to your network. And, like the more sophisticated operating systems used by your smartphones, tablets, and other devices, firmware can have security exploits that leave it vulnerable. Developers are constantly on the lookout for these flaws, and release updates to address them.
More and more, modern gateways are capable of running updates automatically in the background, but you should still make sure your gateway’s firmware is updated. You should be able to find an update firmware option in your router’s admin dashboard. If you rent your gateway from your internet service provider (ISP), make sure they push out regular firmware updates to keep your equipment secure.
Your home network handles all of your most sensitive internet traffic, so it’s vital to keep it secured. Use an up-to-date gateway, secure your network settings, and protect your personal data from the security flaws that can come with having lots of devices connected to your network. For the most part, it’s all just common sense.