used with permission from Norton by Symantec, by Christina Schubert
It is beginning to feel like the Internet is a basic necessity for existence in the 21st century. With all our devices connected to the Internet, we have an indescribable physical mobility that leads to increased productivity. It is safe to say that the Internet is for everyone and does not limit itself to the tech savvy. Unfortunately, when not safeguarded, the Internet can be a playground for nefarious activities caused by people with malicious intent.
Take a home wireless network as an example. Almost every member of the family accesses it through laptops, PCs, cell phones and tablets. With the Internet of Things, there is a gamut of other elements in the home that access the Wi-Fi. A small vulnerability in the home Wi-Fi network can give a criminal access to almost all the devices that access that Wi-Fi. This could spell trouble for bank accounts, credit card details, child safety, and a whole lot of other concerns.
The following tips can help secure your home Wi-Fi network against unauthorized access.
1. Change the default name of your home Wi-Fi
The first step towards a safer home Wi-Fi is to change the SSID (service set identifier). SSID is the network’s name. Many manufactures give all their wireless routers a default SSID. In most cases it is the company’s name. When a computer with a wireless connection searches for and displays the wireless networks nearby, it lists each network that publicly broadcasts its SSID. This gives a hacker a better chance of breaking into your network. It is better to change the network’s SSID to something that does not disclose any personal information thereby throwing hackers off their mission.
2. Make your wireless network password unique and strong
Most wireless routers come pre-set with a default password. This default password is easy to guess by hackers, especially if they know the router manufacturer. When selecting a good password for your wireless network, make sure it is at least 20 characters long and includes numbers, letters, and various symbols. This setting will make it difficult for hackers to access your network.
3. Enabling network encryption
Almost all wireless routers come with an encryption feature. By default it is turned off. Turning on your wireless router’s encryption setting can help secure your network. Make sure you turn it on immediately after your broadband provider installs the router. Of the many types of encryption available, the most recent and effective is “WPA2.”
4. Turn off network name broadcasting
When using a wireless router at home, it is highly recommended that you disable network name broadcasting to the general public. This feature is often useful for businesses, libraries, hotels and restaurants that want to offer wireless Internet access to customers, but it is usually unnecessary for a private wireless network.
5. Keep your router’s software up to date
Sometimes router’s firmware, like any other software, contains flaws that can become major vulnerabilities unless they are quickly fixed by firmware releases from the manufacturer. Always install the latest software available on the system and download the latest security patches to ensure no security hole or breach is left open to online predators.
6. Make sure you have a good firewall
A “firewall” is designed to protect computers from harmful intrusions. Wireless routers generally contain built-in firewalls but are sometimes shipped with the firewall turned off. Be sure to check that the wireless router’s firewall is turned on. In case your router doesn’t have such a firewall, make sure you install a good firewall solution on your system to watch for malicious access attempts to your wireless network.
7. Use VPNs to access your network
A virtual private network, or VPN, is a group of computers or networks that work together over the Internet. Individuals can use VPNs as a method to secure and encrypt their communications. When you connect to a VPN, a VPN client is launched on your computer. When you log in with your credentials your computer exchanges keys with another server. Once both computers have verified each other as authentic, all your Internet communication is encrypted and secured from outside prying.
Most of all, check what devices connect to your home network and make sure they have reliable security software like Norton Securityinstalled against viruses and spyware.