As 2020 is dwindling down to its eventual close, this year has put many of us at wits end trying to conform to the new normal (for the time being). One of the more difficult situations that many people have dealt with throughout this entire ordeal is access to reliable internet. Now more than ever, people are reliant on having access to the internet at their homes, whether they are working from home, or attending school virtually.
As more and more people are getting online, and just as many devices are being connected to home Wi-Fi’s, a large majority of these people are not taking the necessary steps and measures to ensure that they are properly protecting themselves, and their devices from hackers.
Recently, from the Xfinity Cyber Health Report from Comcast which combines data from a consumer survey collected by the xFi Advanced Security platform says that internet users vastly underestimate how often home networks are targeted by cyber threats. Comcast reports that xFi Advanced Security has blocked nearly six billion active threats – representing an average of about 104 cybersecurity threats per home per month.
Large corporate networks have their own IT teams or even IT security teams to protect them against attacks. Thankfully, you don’t need your own security expert to secure your network at home. With just a few simple tips, most potential attacks can be prevented.
Change The Default Password & Use a Strong Password
Without a doubt, the first and foremost thing we all should do when setting up a network router, or access point is to change the default password. These default passwords can be easily found online, and it is not uncommon for manufacturers to use the same password across multiple products that they sell. To add salt to the wound of manufacturers reusing passwords, clever hackers have compiled numerous password lists and rainbow tables of these different default passwords.
To alleviate this issue, and to further add to the overall security posture of your home network, you should use an extremely strong password. To make this easy on yourself, there are several websites that offer the service of generating a random strong password for you.
Change the Default Wi-Fi Name
You have most likely looked at the available wireless networks around you when connecting to an open one at Starbucks or the local coffee shop. The infamous FBI Surveillance Van, Nacho Wi-Fi, or The LAN Before Time are just a few of the most popular Wi-Fi names of 2020. The technical term for the Wi-Fi name is the SSID (Service Set Identifier). Changing this to something punny, and quirky may seem like a good way to get a laugh out of people but we’ll get to why you shouldn’t do that next. Instead, you should change the SSID to something that you can easily remember yourself.
Disable Network SSID Broadcasting
To double back on the previous tip, it is suggested that you disable your network from broadcasting its SSID, in layman’s terms; hide the network from showing up as nearby networks. If you block your network from broadcasting its SSID, your Wi-Fi becomes a hidden network. Devices that already have connection data stored will still be able to connect, but others won’t see it. In many cases, the network list that others see will include a line that says “Hidden network.” Without knowing the name of the network, it is impossible to connect to it.
Enable Wi-Fi Encryption
It should go without saying that we all should be using a strong encryption standard on our home networks. Most Wi-Fi routers and access points come with three different encryption standards, WEP, WPA, and WPA2, with WPA2 being the most secure of the three. When choosing your network’s level of security, it is recommended to go for WPA2, if available, or WPA as these levels are more secure than WEP. We should also note that one (with barely any hacking skills) can crack into a WEP encrypted network in less than 60 seconds.
Always Keep Firmware Updated
Wireless router and access point firmware, like any other software, can contain flaws or vulnerabilities that can cause major issues unless they are fixed by firmware updates from the manufacturer. Always install the latest firmware available on the system and download the latest security patches to ensure no security hole or breach is left open.
These steps are simple to learn, and when properly followed, can ensure that your home network will be even more secure than it is now.
Since Christmas is right around the corner, and this is the season of giving, I’m going to provide one more extremely helpful tip that most people never even think of doing.
If you’re going on a trip, and are going to be away from your house for a few days or weeks, turn off your Wi-Fi.