Network security is something that everyone hears about but really has no clue what it is. At first you think it is only meant for businesses and larger cooperation’s. But this type of thing should be as common as locking your front door when you leave your home.
The more we have personal information anywhere on our computers the more likely you are to be subject to theft of this information. Locking down you home network and home computers is an easy and effective way to prevent this type of theft and attack. There are many easy and free ways to make this happen. Here are a few:
1. Never Use Default Settings:
When you setup your home network this day in age there will more than likely be a wireless or “WiFi’ device in the mix. This could be a Router or and Access Point. In almost all of these devices, it is setup to just work. Plug it in and go. No type of authentication or security check points such as a username or password. This is one of the major causes of network breaches. If you can just log in and go, that means everyone else can too. If that person knows what he is doing he can cause a lot of damage and heartache.
Always set a different username and password for your network devices configuration and always setup some type of encryption on your wireless networks. Even though all of these methods are not foolproof, it adds another layer of protection against attacks and theft. WPA/WPA2, WEP, and TKIP are types of encryption that you can set on most wireless routers.
2. Never Give Out Your Passwords
This is an important one. Never ever give this information out. That’s like giving a stranger the keys to your house and saying “take anything you want”. They are secret for a reason. You should also make sure that you are changing your password often. Password can be easy to. Making sure you passwords are at least 8-12 characters long and include numbers, letters and special characters like !, @, #, and so on will make the password harder to break. New things that some applications are using are spaces in your passwords. This will make strong passwords even harder to crack.
Hackers like to get this information using a number of different ways. Have you ever received an email from your Internet Service Provider asking for the password to your email account or gotten an email saying that you won a bunch of money and they ask you for your bank account number? These are ways of getting to the unwary. An Internet Service Provider will never ask for that information. They don’t need it. This is known as “social engineering”. Hacker will pose as anyone you might trust or are not sure of and try to get information out of you. A password is a password for a reason. Keep it to yourself.
3. Keep Your System Updated
This is another method of keeping your network and computer safe. I know it is a total pain and it takes time and internet but it will help. Keep your operating system up to date. Developers are always finding and fixing new vulnerabilities and backdoors into your system. These updates and patches are the end result of these finds and fixes. You should not only keep your operating system up to date but applications running on your system as well. Once again these updates make the program run better and might install new features but will also close and holes the developers might have found and made the application safer to use.
4. Make Sure Your Virus Software is Up to Date
Virus protection should never be your only security measure although it is an important one. With that being said, this is another target that hackers are attuned to. Making sure that you have the correct and updated virus signature lists will keep you ready for the up and coming malicious code that hackers are infecting the internet with. Although there are many paid programs that provide protection there are just as many free programs that provide comparable protection. Do some research on what you feel comfortable with. Tips when looking for software is check the user comments and reviews. Let the people that use the software give you the best idea of if it works or not.
So, these are some of the basics. It won’t make your home network an impenetrable force, but it will make the everyday hacker moving on to the next network that isn’t as secure. Again in review: never give your password out, never use default settings on anything, use difficult passwords with numbers, letters and special characters (such as ! @ # $), and make sure your system OS and virus protection is up to date. One more thing I forgot to mention, if you don’t know much about computers or internet security, it would be in your best interest (if you have a computer on the web) to get someone to help. Most people charge for it, but just like your virus protection, there are people out there that will be more than willing to give you the information and help needed to get secure. Till next time, keep safe and keep surfing!