02 Mar Securing Your Home Network
In the past, securing your home computer network was the responsibility of the experts who installed it, but today’s Internet users often install their own home networks. Some users may not know how to build in the protective measures necessary to prevent outsiders from snooping or worse, accessing their private information.
It’s extremely easy for anyone to download hacking software or “recipes” from the Internet. Because of the ease-of-use of these programs, there are hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of “computer geeks” getting into mischief on the Internet. Much worse, however, are the organized groups of cybercriminals looking to exploit vulnerable computer users for financial gain. Securing your home network is more important than ever, and it’s worth the effort to learn more about it.
There are a variety of devices that can make up your home network including routers, firewalls, cable or DSL modems, printers, video game consoles, TVs, smartphones and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) phones. Bluetooth devices can also sync with each other when they come within range of your network.
Firewalls and Routers
The two main pieces of hardware that help provide security are firewalls and routers. A firewall is like a guard. It helps to prevent your neighbors from snooping and keeps hackers from using your computer to send out your personal information without your permission. It also helps you monitor data traffic between your network and the Internet. Make sure you turn on your firewall and choose an appropriate security setting.
Most routers have either Wireless Encryption (WEP) or Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) encryption options. Some have both. WPA is more secure than WEP. If you use a wireless router, make sure you change the preset administrator password and create your own complex password. You should also enable encryption which will scramble the information you transmit making it unreadable to outsiders.
Unless you secure your router, you’re vulnerable to people accessing information on your computer, using your Internet service for free, or potentially using your network to commit cybercrimes. If you have frequent visitors to your home, it’s a good idea to set up a separate guest password for them. Firewalls and routers are two devices that will help you in securing your home network.
Anti-virus and Anti-malware Software
Almost as important as a firewall and a secured router are anti-virus and anti-malware software programs. Along with careful Web surfing habits, anti-virus and anti-malware programs can help keep your computer safe.
Anti-virus software finds and removes viruses from your computer by comparing the applications on your computer against a huge database of known threats. Viruses are unwanted and malicious code that can delete, edit and/or add files in the hope of being destructive.
Anti-malware software is a complementary but essential program which detects and removes zero-day malware and “malware in the wild” including malicious programs and files that many anti-virus programs do not detect or cannot fully remove. Anti-malware should not replace anti-virus software; rather it should run alongside it for complete protection.
To protect your home network and your family, you need to have the right tools in place and the confidence that family members can use the Internet safely and securely. With the right tools and knowledge, you can minimize your chances of having your security compromised by malicious hackers.
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