From being a hindrance, cybersecurity has quickly become a grueling menace now. The Center for Strategic and International Studies’ report has found that close to $600 billion, nearly one percent of global GDP, is lost to cybercrime each year. What is worrying is it’s up from a 2014 study that put global losses at about $445 billion. Looking at this steadily growing threat, the collaborative decision of the Government and the industry to observe National Cyber Security Awareness Month in October looks like an initiative in the right direction. The aim is to ensure that every American is equipped with the right resources to stay safer and more secure online. The theme for the first week is: Make your home a haven for online safety.
The bitter truth is cybersecurity’s importance still reigns within the boundaries of enterprises. For houses, it’s still an afterthought. But as IoT is connecting more and more devices to our home networks, securing those home-based hubs has become more important than ever. Creating a cyber-secure home, thus, will remain a distant dream without ensuring that all family members, including children, know the safe and responsible use of the internet. It’s indeed not that difficult to implement as it appears. The need is to replicate a workplace framework of cybersecurity policies, processes, and technology in your house.
Like a workplace, you can set your Acceptable Use Policy for home.
- Decide whether you want your kids (and spouse) to have Internet access in their bedrooms. To monitor their activities online, you can restrict internet access only in the family room.
- Decide whether you want to have an open access to all sites. Through parental controls, you can block access to inappropriate sites.
- Be sure about how much time you want your family to spend online. You may choose to limit the amount of time your family spends web surfing or texting.
- Come up with a thorough monitoring strategy. The best way to check the compliance level to your Acceptable Use Policy is to monitor your family’s online activities and let them know about it.
Through automatic updates, security software, and wireless network, a proper implementation of this policy is possible. However, the only measure most people use to protect their home network is to set up a password and change the name of the network. But in times where data breaches, ransomware attacks, and many other online threats abound, that’s not enough. This is especially true considering the vulnerability of wi-fi networks which was found in the Wireless Protected Access II (WPA2) protocol. That’s precisely why giving a serious thought to home network security holds the paramount importance. Following listings will move you closer to that thought.
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A) Activate You Network Encryption:
Wireless networks come with numerous encryption languages, such as WEP, WPA or WPA2. WPA2 is a security protocol that stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access 2. A current standard in the industry, WPA2 encrypts traffic on Wi-Fi networks as well as replaces the older and less secure WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy).
Considering that WPA2 AES is a standard security system now, all wireless networks are compatible with it. Moreover, WPA3 is already here and ready to replace WPA2. It’s important to note that WI-FI Alliance has already announced its next-generation wireless network security standard which aims to solve open Wi-Fi networks’ security issues.
B) Pay Attention to The Location of Your Router:
It may sound odd, but the location of your router can impact your home network’s security. It’s advisable to put your wireless router in the middle of your house. It will restrict the wireless signal range of your router within your home as much as possible. Consequently, it cannot be easily intercepted by malicious persons. For the same reason, you should not place your wireless router close to a window, as there’s nothing to block the signal going outside your home. Another benefit is that centrally located router can ensure equal access to the internet to all the rooms in your home.
C) Turn Off the DHCP Functionality on The Router:
One of the best practices in enhancing the network security is to turn off the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server in your router. It is there to dynamically assign IP address and other network configuration parameters to each device on a network. Instead of that, you should prefer static address and then enter your network settings. What it means is you can assign an IP address to the device that is suitable to your router.
D) Deactivate Remote Access:
Though most routers allow you to access their interface only from a connected device, some of them allow access from remote systems too. After turning off the remote access, unwanted users cannot access your router’s privacy settings. Search for Remote access or Remote Administration.
E) Fire Up Your Firewall:
Firewalls aren’t made exclusively for softwares. They come in a hardware variety too. Though the hardware firewall performs the same function as a software one, it comes with an extra layer of security. Good wireless routers generally come with a built-in firewall that can secure your network from potential cyber-attacks. If your router doesn’t have a built-in firewall, it’s high time to install a good firewall device to your router.
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In A Nutshell:
If your wi-fi data gets hijacked, then it doesn’t matter how strong your password is and how updated your software is. That’s why it’s so important to secure it from threats. But realistically speaking, the danger of cyber-attacks cannot be completely nullified, it can only be mitigated. The only way to do so is to leave no stone unturned in enhancing the protection for the devices most frequently connected to your home network. It can be achieved by using updated antivirus programs and traffic filtering software, applying the latest security patches and multiple security layers. Most importantly, you must have a constant vigil over it!
The US government, in collaboration with industry, is observing National Cyber Security Awareness Month in October. Each week of the month has a different theme. This is the first blog post in the series of four.
Next three reads:
- How to land upon lucrative Cyber Security jobs
- 5 Proven ways of creating a cyber-secure workplace
- How you can contribute in Safeguarding Nation’s Critical Infrastructure