7 Ways to Protect Your Home Network From Cyberattacks
The global pandemic has been transforming the world we live in. This transformation includes the way we communicate with each other, the way we shop, and the way we work. After many companies had to move their employees almost overnight to remote workstations, we see an increase in the cyber and phishing attacks. Many of the small businesses do not have an IT department and don’t have sufficient knowledge to educate their employees on how to keep their work safe while working from home. While the world learns from its mistakes, let’s see a few tips on how to secure our home networks.
DO NOT LEAVE YOUR WiFi OPEN
Many people who are not tech-savvy do not suspect how vulnerable a WiFi network can be. The first thing that every work-from-home employee should do is to set up a password for the WiFi network itself. We are talking about home-office security, but the above rule is also true for every private network – at home, in your garage, or your car. Make sure that the password for your WiFi is secure too. A study has shown that the most used passwords in the world are the following:
Using a password like the ones above can expose your network to cyber-attacks. To create a secure password, make sure it is at least 12 characters long and contains numbers, symbols, capital, and lower-case letters.
CHANGE THE NAME OF THE WIRELESS NETWORK (SSID)
Once you set up your WiFi, the router will automatically give it a default name. Most manufacturers will set the name as a combination of the device name and a number. Don’t leave the default name because it may reveal your router’s model (like Netgear or Linksys). To add to this – don’t name your network with easily identifiable information like “apt 5B”, or “Dave’s wifi”.
USE ETHERNET INSTEAD OF WiFi
If you have to use the wireless network for some reason, make sure it is secure, but the best thing that you can do to give yourself better protection from cyber attacks is to use the Ethernet cable instead of wifi. One more thing that you can do, if you decide to switch to using Ethernet cable only, is to disable wireless connections on the router completely. Some routers might have a switch off-key on the device itself while with other devices you will have to log in to the router settings, find the Wireless configuration and turn it off.
MAKE SURE THAT ALL WEBSITES YOU VISIT ARE SECURE
HTTP is a network protocol for accessing pages on the internet. To explain how the HTTP works without going into too many technical details, we can just say that all the information is sent in clear text. When using HTTP, all passwords, username, and all other text you enter are transferred through the public networks. While this is not going to be an issue with most websites where you don’t have to enter sensitive data, it becomes one if you have to enter passwords, credit card numbers, passport number, or any other personal information. On the contrary, the HTTPS protocol uses a security feature that encrypts all the data and ensures all data is transferred securely. It is important, before entering any sensitive data on any website, to check whether or not the website is secure. The address of such websites should start with https://
CHANGE THE DEFAULT LOGIN AND PASSWORD FOR YOUR HOME ROUTER
The WiFi password and router password are two different things. When you buy your router, it comes with a default username and password. Most routers come with a standard default user name like “admin” and password “admin”. It is your responsibility to change the defaults to your own. Again, follow the recommendation for setting up a secure username and password. If you ever forget the password, you can always reset the router back to the default – every router has a hard-reset button.
CHANGE YOUR ROUTER’S IP ADDRESS
There are only a handful of variations of the default router IP address of 192.168.x.x. It is highly recommended to change the router IP. An example could be the following scenario:
Once you login to your router’s settings, on the Network tab find LAN. You will most probably see four different settings there:
- MAC address;
- IP address;
- Subnet mask;
- IGMP Proxy.
What you need to change will be the IP address.
Let’s say that your router IP is 192.168.0.1. In this case, you can change it to 192.168.1.1 and click save. It will take a few moments for the network to restart.
CHANGE THE ROUTER ENCRYPTION
Some routers have default encryption set to WEP which is an older standard. Change the encryption to the strongest available which should be WPA/WPA2.