Is Your Home Network Secure? | Redding | Chico
IT Support in Seattle

Home Computer Security

You’ve invested time and money in your business’ security – your home needs care too.

Home security is about more than just a strong deadbolt and an alarm system. In order to keep your data as secure as the jewelry you have in the safe, you need to pay attention to the consumer technology you use at home.

Just like you double check that the doors are locked before you can relax and fall asleep each night, you should double check a few aspects of your home network before assuming you’re 100% secure.

Keep the following tips in mind to keep your home and family secure:

Update your software regularly

By regularly applying updates and patches, you ensure your applications and devices are kept up to date with the latest security and capabilities. Timely patching closes security gaps and removes vulnerabilities, and is essential for robust security.

Run up-to-date antivirus software

A powerful antivirus solution detects, prevents, and removes viruses, worms, and other malware from your computers. Be sure to configure yours so that it accepts updates and patches as they are released – be aware that, due to the nature of how they work, antivirus solutions can’t protect you from zero-day exploits.

Install a network firewall

A firewall is your first line of defense for keeping your information safe, which is precisely why older, outdated versions are so dangerous. A firewall is a particular type of solution that maintains the security of your network by blocking unauthorized users from gaining access to your data. Firewalls are deployed via hardware, software, or a combination of the two.

Install firewalls on network devices

Beyond simply installing a firewall on your network, you should also consider one for the devices connected to that network. If you’re using Windows or Linux, you likely have access to default firewall already. These firewalls are customizable, feature-rich, and should do the job well.

Regularly back up your data

A backup solution will help you protect your files against accidents and hardware failure. Be sure to test your backup thoroughly and regularly; create dummy files and then delete them to see how fast they can be restored, or schedule a day to literally unplug your critical systems to find out how long it takes to get online again.

Enable wireless security

In the age of Wi-Fi, wireless networking security is more important than ever – be sure to follow these tips to keep your wireless router as secure as possible:

  • Use Strong Encryption. Be sure to configure your router to the strongest possible encryption protocols. They will likely be Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) Personal Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and Temporary Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP).
  • Don’t Use A Default Password. Be sure to update the router’s administrator password, which is set to a default out of the box. Obviously, this isn’t secure, as it’s likely easy to guess, and is often printed on the box or device itself. By changing the password to something only you know, you’ll limit unauthorized access.
  • Don’t Use A Default Name. Also known as the “network name”, the service set identifier (SSID) identifies your network to each wireless device connected to it. By default, most router’s SSIDs reference the manufacturer and the device, which provides information to external parties that you don’t necessarily want them to have. Set a new name, but make sure not to use any personal information, such as your family name, or address.
  • Disable WPS. Don’t help the wrong people get onto your network. Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) makes it easier for your family’s devices to join the Wi-Fi network without having to input a password every time. While this is more convenient for you, it also makes it easier for hackers to gain access as well, because it informs them when the first half of the eight-digit PIN is correct.
  • Configure Signal Strength. Often, the default Wi-Fi signal will extend outside the area of your home, depending on where you place it and how large your house is. That allows people outside your house, on the street and even other properties to try to connect to your network. Be sure to configure the strength so that it only covers the area of your home.
  • Don’t Leave Your Wi-Fi On. If you and your family plan to be away for an extended period of time, be sure to turn the network off. Some routers even allow you to set a schedule, so that it automatically turns off while you’re away for a long weekend, or while you’re on vacation.
  • Keep firmware up-to-date. On a regular basis, you should be checking the manufacturer’s website to make sure that your router has the latest version of its firmware installed. Updates like these will keep the router performing properly, as well as eliminate issues and vulnerabilities that have been recently identified.
  • Turn off remote management. Many routers will allow you to access and change settings over the Internet – but remember, anything you can do, so can hackers. So be sure to disable remote management so that no one else can reconfigure your router.
  • Keep an eye out for unknown device connections. Regularly monitor your network for unauthorized devices that have joined or are attempting to join. You can do so from the manufacturer’s website.

Mitigate Email Threats

Most modern cybercrime tactics are based on technical vulnerabilities. External parties force their way onto a network by taking advantage of out of date software, or unencrypted data, or an inadequate firewall. Naturally, if you know your security software is patched and updated, and you know you have a reliable firewall and antivirus solution, then you must be safe, right?

Unfortunately, an increasingly common cybercrime strategy doesn’t rely on technical vulnerabilities at all. It relies on the user.

Email is one of the most popular cybercrime platforms today. Users are involved in almost all malicious email initiations. Learning to identify fraudulent email is essential for everyone, technical or not.

  • Be Suspicious of Unsolicited MessagesIf an unknown person claims to be from a legitimate organization, you should verify their identity before answering the email.
  • Always Verify Email RequestsIf you receive a suspicious email, try to verify it by directly contacting the company from where the email was sent.
  • Don’t Provide Personal InformationNever reveal personal or financial information in an email, and don’t follow links sent in emails.
  • Don’t Send Sensitive Information Over the InternetIn general, this information should not be sent via email or over the Internet.
  • Pay Attention to URLsMalicious websites may look identical to legitimate ones, but the URL may include a slight variation in spelling or use a different domain. This could signal a phishing attempt.

Improve Password Security

The sad fact is that the most commonly used password worldwide is “password”. You can do better.

  • To make passwords strong, use long phrases or sentences that mix capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Start with something like Strong passwords are safer. With a little tinkering, you can come up with a password that is very strong and yet memorable, like the one you see on the screen: Str0ngpassw0rdsRsafer!
  • Don’t use the same password everywhere. If it’s stolen or inadequately protected by the site, all the accounts it protects are at risk.
  • Don’t share your passwords with anyone or be tricked into giving them away. Many account takeovers occur because the owner disclosed the password.

The Apex team works hard to keep businesses safe and protected from the latest threats. But we feel it is important for you to also think about your home network. You can contact Apex Technology Management at (800) 310-2739 or send us an email at info@apex.com.

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