Best Practices for Improving Home Network Security

 cyber security resilliences

The advent of pandemic changed most people way of work and for many, this has become the new-normal.

Businesses had to adapt to the concept of remote working very quickly now and staff had to become more self-reliant in their use of technologies and the importance of home network security.

Given the unexpected changes it information technology brought about by the pandemic, has seen workers become fully acquainted with managing multiple devices within their home network infrastructure, such as checking internet speed and bandwidth, addressing internet connectivity issues and ensure they are able to work productively every day.

With all of that said, what are some best practices for improving home network security?

With so many changes happening within the way we work and IT at home becoming such a integral part of our daily working life, it is concerning that many users are simply consuming technologies but haven't given serious attention to a much-needed area; namely home network security. There is no doubt that the remote working world, home and office are gradually becoming inseparable. This means cybersecurity precautions which were normally only addressed by specialist IT teams within the office has somehow immediately landed into the home without much preperation or careful thought.

In this post we’ll provide an overview of home network security and how it applies to remote workers. We'll also examine recommend best practices for improving IT security at home within your own network infrastructure.

 

Why is Home Network Security Important?

Statistics shows that cyber security attacks are on the increase and in the past, this was mostly directed at corporate environment. Now, with many users working remotely from home for some of those same companies, it has become more lucrative for cyber criminals to direct threats at home network with weak IT security. The truth is, not every home have a secure IT infrastructure in place and the technical skills to understand and adopt to the changes required for more stringent home network security as exist in their work place.

As we embrace the modern technology era, home network security is becoming increasingly crucially important in many ways as its office counterpart. Any security vulnerabilities or malicious exploit could potentially expose organisations business processes and data to cyber criminals because of a weak link in their security strategy.

Within the home, their are numerous rnetwork resources for a cyber hacker to compromise, including  routers, home security systems, computers and medical devices ranking highly amongst desireable targets. Additionally, many residential customers are now introducing home automation and a pletora of iOT devices for smart home solution, many of which could essentially expand the footprint for cyber security attacks. This is especially true where security best practices was not a major consideration for solution implementation.

With most UK homes having high-speed internet connectivity and little to no additional security detection mechanism for protection against cyber threats except the router supplied by their internet service provider. This means router with out even basic security could provide easy access to computer hackers via router compromise and poor network security. Once a home network or computers are hacked, they could potentially become arsenals in the hand of a cyber attacker for executing serious denial-of-service attacks and cyber exploits on another party.

 

How To Secure Your Home Network

As a remote worker using technology on a daily basis, there numerous strategies you could adopt to product the integrity and confidentiality of your network-enabled resources and data. Let's examine some of these and see how much you know or already have setup within your home network infrastructure.

 

Let’s Begin With Your Router

Once your home infrastructure is up and running, the easiest point of entry for an attacker is your wireless network, since devices connects to it to gain internet access. Most residential homes normally treat their WIFI network credentials as a set-and-forget entity, with many using the default details provided by their Internet Service Provider. Whilst keeping the default username, password and wireless SSD seems convenient, this is not always good as it could potentially lend itself inspecting abuse by a malicious actor. One quick win to improve network security is to change your home WIFI password regularly – choose a period/schedule that works best for you.

Did you know that are many ways to improve the security of your router and overall home network protection?

 

Utilize Additional router settings

Some of the newer router models also include additional security features that could be tweaked / configured to make home network security work better for you. If you are able to log into the router’s admin console, it may also be possible to update some of the following features:

  • Encryption Protocol - Use WPA2 or WPA3 (mostly available on newer devices) to reduce the possibilities of unwelcomed actors intercepting your network communication and information transferred between your computers and other internet-enabled devices.
  • Network firewall – Enabling your network firewall and activating additional features can help to block suspicious traffic entry or leaving your network.
  • Disable Remote Access – Where possible, disable remote access to your router and use local access. Only in limited and exceptional circumstances should you allow the administrator console to be accessed remotely. Doing otherwise could also risk exposing your login credentials to hackers. Please note that this is different from remote support services where you are receiving technical help from trusted network engineers or IT support specialists.
  • Firmware updates - Always keep your routers and access point software updated with the latest security patches to reduce the risk of cyber attacks and malicious exploits to your home network.

Hackers are frequently scanning the internet in search of a network that they could exploit via security flows – don’t allow yours to fall victim. Although automatic update can sometimes introduce problems for devices due to unproperly tested software rollout, in most cases majority of the firmware updates are perfectly safe for your router and other network-enabled devices.

  • Enable Guest WIFI Networks – Having guest wireless network enabled is like having a previous gem. This could make a huge difference for those moments where you have visitors and people outside your family wanting to connect to your WIFI. Once they are gone you could either turn of Guest WIFI or change the password until the next time someone need to connect to your WIFI again.
  • Turn the router off – If you have serious concerns about the security of your network or lack the technical skills for improving you network, one of the easiest option is to turn of your router. If you are going to be away from home for long periods and there are no immediate need for devices to be connected to the internet, you could also switch off WIFI to prevent freeloaders from discovering and hacking your WIFI network to use the internet.

 

What Else Could You Do to Improve Your Home Network Security

Installing a software firewall on your computer and other devices could help to introduce security in depth. Having this extra layer of security and traffic filtering on your computer is a good way for blocking unwanted or malicious inbound and outbound network traffic. Most software security suites come bundled with antivirus and firewall for threat detections and ongoing device protection against, virus attacks, trojans, malware, spyware and other malicious exploits.

The use of VPNs (virtual private networks) has also increased significantly for protecting user communication between the home and business network. Using VPN provides incredible advantage for protecting your data over the internet between the source and destination servers / systems by high-level encryption and making your network IP address invisible to the outside world.

 

Best Practices for Securing Your Home Network

Some computer users are die-hard fans of physical network connection and nothing in the world will make them change and start using wireless – why? Wireless is radio signal and asuch there is a possibility that it can be intercepted and compromised. With an ethernet cable, the only way an unauthorised user will gain access is if they are either gain access to the building and physically plug into the network or breach a network-enabled device – the former is extremely rare. For that reason, many users have opted to only have ethernet LAN cables connecting their computer and network resources. Having a physical-connection-only home network reduce the threat layer and possible risk of cyber compromise.

If you are keen to know who is connected to your home network and reducing security, you could also consider limiting the number of active devices and monitor new or existing access via their MAC address and IP configuration details. This would be taking security to the next level, but for some people this is the level of cyber deterrence that is necessary and that is fair enough.

 

In Conclusion

Whilst the introduction of home network security measures can significantly improve your IT infrastructure, it’s important for us to not forget about the threat that hackers pose to your data. Any information breach can have detrimental implications for an organisation and in some cases, being held to ransom is even worst.

This means, taking a holistic vow of your data, network, business and people is a more effective approach for improving the level of security within the home, especially at a time when more people are actively working remotely from home.

Hopefully, taking the time to adopt some of these recommended best practices for home network security can help you protect your computer and IT infrastructure against unexpected cyber  threats and compromise.

 

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