Home network security involves protecting the connection between devices in your home, such as routers, computers, smartphones, printers, cameras, and smart lighting, to each other and the internet.
I have come across many homeowners worried about the vulnerabilities of their home networks. These concerns are valid, especially when you consider the 2018 FBI warning about hackers.
Now I share several things you should do to protect your home network from data breaches and hacks from experiences.
Read on for tips on how to cut down on the chances of network security issues.
Change Default Router Details
Every device on your home network goes through a router. An excellent starting point for a secure network is changing the default settings on the router.
For example, default configurations let you log in to the router and manage how it and other devices connect to the internet.
These login details give you “admin access” to the router so you can define data that passes through it and devices that have permission to send and receive that data.
Your router comes out of the box with details of what the default login details are. And these details are also available for anyone on the internet.
Make sure you change the router’s default username and password as soon as you bring it into your home.
Change Your Home Wireless Network Name
Another setting you should change immediately is the router’s SSID. This is the public name that shows up when you’re looking at Wi-Fi networks around you.
Routers come with default SSIDs that may give away the brand and model.
The default SSID makes it easier for a potential hacker to break in. A non-generic name keeps attackers away since it’s obvious you manage the router carefully.
The network name should be obscure.
Putting your name or other identifying information out there makes you a target for hackers near you when they fall within your signal footprint.
Set a Home Wireless Network Password
As you update the network SSID, you should set up a new password too.
The password should be unique, long, and strong. Perhaps, consider using a passphrase that you’ll remember easily.
We share Wi-Fi passwords with visitors from time to time. However, this increases the chances of the password getting shared with more people than should have it with time.
Change the password every six or 12 months.
Also, change the password after any event when you have a large gathering at your house.
Enable Modern Encryption Standards
Neglecting to use the encryption feature on your router is like leaving all windows and doors open. Anyone who cares enough can peek in for a look or listen.
Wi-Fi Protected Access protocols 2 (WPA 2), and 3 (WPA 3) are newer and more secure encryption standards at the time of writing.
But not all routers have WPA 3, so WPA 2 is still fine.
Create a Guest SSID
Using a single network name for your residential Wi-Fi is easy but not the best approach.
Like you wouldn’t allow guests access to your drawers and closets, they don’t require full exposure to your home’s networked devices as they access the internet.
Many Wi-Fi routers have an option to create a separate guest SSID. The feature allows simple segmentation of your home’s network into two isolated domains.
Your guest network has a separate SSID and Wi-Fi password.
The new wireless network provides guests with internet access while hiding storage devices, printers, shared folders, and other devices critical to your home.
Update Router Firmware
Check with the router manufacturer site for critical firmware updates for your model.
Some router models allow checking for updates on the administration panel for easy downloading and installing.
However, router firmware updates don’t happen often. But if your router is old and no longer receiving updates, it’s time you look for a replacement.
Check out this page for the best Wi-Fi routers for you ISP if you are interested.
Consider Router Placement
Many Wi-Fi signals are strong enough for someone outside your home to “see” your connection on a device. Stop this by moving the router to a central location in your home.
Moving the router is a straightforward, non-technical step that prevents someone across the street from accessing your network.
Secure Your Devices
Apart from router settings, use software to keep your network safe. Consider installing firewall software on your devices. The software adds an extra security layer for inbound and outbound traffic on your computer.
Device firewalls usually come bundled with antivirus software, which protects your phones and computer from malware.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) also play an integral role in a secure home network.
Many consider VPNs as tools for exclusive use when accessing a company’s network. However, they also offer additional encryption and help hide your network IP address.
Look Out for Physical Risks
Your network may have physical cabling or ports that are accessible to outsiders. Perhaps cabling for the camera can be reached from the ground.
Such devices are not only theft targets, but their wiring can be used for various intrusions.
Inspect the wiring frequently to make sure no one is trying to tamper with them.
Best Practices for Securing Your Home Network
Use an ethernet or wired connection for devices you don’t want on the wireless network. For example, use wired connections for your home office to mitigate exposure and risk.
Reduce the number of devices on your network. Do you need to enable all your smart appliances and devices at all times?
Turn your network off when traveling or going away for extended periods. Doing this prevents attackers from exploiting your home network while away.
Keep Your Home Network Secure
Learning how to secure your home network is a critical step to ensuring your data and information is safe from cybercriminals.
If you can’t follow all the tips above, at least try a few to make simple, minor changes. For instance, updating the router firmware and changing its position may stop casual hackers.