In a world that increasingly relies on technology to get things done, cybersecurity has never been more important. Your home network is likely to be the most vulnerable to attacks, but you can take steps to safeguard it and keep your information private.
Be Careful Where You Share Your Information
With most of us regularly making purchases online, the number of websites that have our sensitive information adds up fast. When signing up for any type of online account, always make sure you check the little box indicating you don’t want your information shared with third parties, if such an option is available. You should also delete any accounts with sites you no longer use, especially those with your credit card information. Always check that a site is secure (shown by the little lock symbol next to the web address) before making a purchase through it.
Make Your Passwords as Strong as Possible
It’s easy to keep using the same password you’ve had for various accounts for years, but chances are, that password is not as secure as it should be. For every additional letter or character, your password contains, its strength increases significantly, so if in doubt, make it longer. A good tip for creating passwords is to string together random words. Two-factor authentication is also vital for security, but it does not make up for weak passwords, so always have both a strong password and two-factor authentication in place.
Never Procrastinate Security Updates
If you routinely click “Remind Me Tomorrow” when your computer alerts you to a necessary update, you may compromise your cyber security. Always keep your software up to date to minimize the threat of a virus or malware attacking your system, and don’t neglect updates for handheld devices such as tablets, which can also be vulnerable to hacking.
Change Your Router’s Name
Not only is it a great comedic opportunity, but changing the name of your home network also makes it harder for hackers to know what type of router you have. Not knowing the manufacturer of your router means hackers won’t know what specific vulnerabilities it may have, which puts you in a more secure position.
Enable WPA2 AES Network Encryption
WPA2 AES is the safest encryption setting for your Wi-Fi, and it’s compatible with all networks. Other encryption types, such as WEP and WPA, are outdated and therefore fairly easy for hackers to get around. Check your router’s settings, and make sure you select WPA2 AES encryption for your home network.
Change Your Router’s Location
Placing a router in the middle of your home will ensure your Wi-Fi coverage is even throughout different rooms, while also lessening the likelihood of a hacker being able to access it from outside. A router placed by a window, for example, can be especially vulnerable to attacks, as the signal will travel outside your home. It’s also a smart idea to disable your router when you go on vacation, as this will also reduce the chance of hackers being able to access it.
Have a Plan in the Event of a Cyber Attack
It’s important to keep an eye on all your online accounts to ensure there are no signs of hacking activity. Check for unauthorized purchases on your credit cards, suspicious-looking files appearing on your computer, increased disk activity, and unusually high outgoing network traffic.
As soon as you notice an issue, contact your internet service provider (ISP) for help. When you first set up service, make sure you choose a provider with a solid reputation for customer service, especially If you have satellite internet in a rural area where it’s difficult to have a tech visit. In addition to calling your service provider, always contact your bank if you see any confusing charges on your account. Speed is important when it comes to tackling a security threat, as is having a backup of your data in case it’s compromised.
Taking these simple steps will improve the security of your home network significantly, so make sure you’ve followed all of them for maximum protection, and always remember to install those security updates as soon as they become available.
Alyse Ainsworth is a home technology expert, who also writes for Reviews.org. She covers home automation, advances in lifestyle technology, and everything in-between.