Whether connected wirelessly or wired, your home network requires maximum protection to keep the family safe. Without adequate network security, cybercriminals and hackers can exploit your devices, such as computers, routers, or Blu-Ray players, to access private and confidential information.
Security breaches of business and home networks have been rising in recent years. While some are minor, with no or little loss of data and other resources, others, like the hacking of the Sony Pictures network in 2014, are catastrophic.
As outlined below, you can mitigate such risks and keep your family safe on the internet by observing the security protocols for different interconnected devices in the home network.
What Is Network Security, and Why Is It Important?
Network security refers to implementing measures designed to preserve a network's infrastructure's integrity, operability, and confidentiality, thereby protecting it from unauthorized access, modification, or improper use. Maintaining a secure network might require a complex combination of hardware and software, including anti-malware applications and firewalls.
A secure home network allows users and programs to perform different functions seamlessly without any threat of compromise of critical information. Without proper security, malicious individuals can use vulnerabilities in your home network to access your data, such as credit card and social security numbers. The risk of theft and sabotage is quite high with improperly configured networks.
Best Practices for Home Network Security
Network security involves using different tools and technologies at various levels to protect the interconnected devices in the home network. Below are the security strategies for the potential components of home network infrastructure:
Network Security for Electronic Computing Devices
Securing your electronic computing devices such as laptops, computers, tablets, smartphones, IoT items, home appliances, and security cameras requires the following:
- Updating the operating system (OS) – each version of an operating system has different security features, and migrating to the most recent version keeps your network protected from common attacks by default. You can turn on the auto-update function to ensure you obtain the latest version as soon as it is available or schedule regular update downloads from a trusted source.
- Installing a security suite – security suite protects your computing devices on many fronts with its safe-browsing, antivirus, host-based intrusion, firewall, and anti-phishing capabilities. Cloud-based reputation and full disk encryption are other strategies to protect your home network in case of malware execution and computer theft.
- Using unique passwords – strong and unique passwords that are difficult to guess for each account prevents easy, unauthorized access to your computing devices.
- Restricting the use of administrator accounts – all operating systems give the administrator privileged access to different files and device configurations. Cybercriminals can execute malware when you are logged in as an administrator to cause extensive system compromise. You can prevent such events by creating a non-privileged user account for daily activities like email access and web browsing, leaving the administrator account for software updates, maintenance, and program installations.
- Using trusted sources for software updates – if the program lacks an auto-update feature, download the updates from verified, trustworthy sources only. Always check the product's health before installing it. Disable third-party installation and avoid jailbreaking These steps are essential for mobile phone security.
Securing Your Home Network Devices
Security recommendations for network devices like routers, modems, and wireless access points that control the inflow and outflow of information in your home network include:
- Enhancing administrator control – sometimes, internet service providers (ISPs) offer clients modems or routers as part of the service contract. Connect a personal routing device to the router or modem for enhanced administrative control with these ISP-provided network devices. Modern routers even allow you to create a separate wireless network for guests, lowering the risk of home network infiltration.
- Installing network firewall – Wireless access points lack firewall capabilities, requiring you to buy a router. The routing device should support basic firewall capabilities, including Network Address Translation (NAT), to protect your network against intrusion attempts such as boundary scanning. If your service provider supports IPv6, your personally-owned router should have IPv6 firewall capabilities as well.
- Implementing Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA2) – whether personal or ISP-provided, your wireless access point should use WPA2 to keep wireless communication in your home confidential. The WPA2 should consist of at least 20 unique characters for optimum security. If your computer is not WPA2-compatible, a hardware or software upgrade might be necessary.
- Restricting administrative control to the internal network– although remote administration on routing devices might be convenient, it exposes your network to malicious activity. Therefore, limit configuration privileges to the internal network only. These measures, including disabling the universal plug-n-play feature, eliminate the vulnerabilities attackers can use to compromise your home network.
- Using strong passwords – all network devices, like routers managed through a web interface, should be protected by strong passwords unique to each device. Hackers can leverage default or weak passwords to access internal home systems and steal information.
Internet behavior is also crucial in maintaining home network security. For instance, disable features that allow websites to remember passwords and use multi-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access by criminals.
Again, enabling TLS encryption and exercising caution when using social media platforms limits exposure to hackers. Do not post sensitive information like address, phone number, and credit card numbers on social media.
Network Security When You Work From Home
Working from home became widespread with the Covid-19 pandemic, but this culture will remain prevalent even when the pandemic fades. While it is extremely convenient for most employees, it bears unprecedented cybersecurity risks for individuals and businesses. Observing network security protocols is essential in keeping cyber crooks away and protecting sensitive data.
First, keep your software and programs up-to-date always. Using the latest version of the operating system, antivirus, and internet security software helps fix security issues, eliminating vulnerabilities of unpatched systems. Enabling a virtual private network (VPN) when accessing an employer's network prevents interception and exploitation of any potentially sensitive information as the data remains encrypted.
Another security feature to implement when working from home involves multi-factor authentication or strong passwords. Multi-factor authentication requires several verification methods before gaining access to a network or account, reducing susceptibility to cyberattacks even among less tech-savvy individuals.
Monitoring Your Network Security
ZenGRC is a governance, risk, and compliance platform by Reciprocity that you can use to monitor your network security while implementing and maintaining cybersecurity management frameworks like PCI, HIPAA, and ISO. With its user-friendly interface, you can quickly identify attacks on your network and respond promptly.