April 15, 2020 | Written by: Maura McGowan
Is Your Home Prepared for the New Normal?
Wireless Technology Precautions to Take to Ensure Your Home is Protected Against Cyber-Attacks
The spring of 2020 normally should be filled with lively spring breaking students, warmer temperatures and plenty of floral color to give us all much-needed happiness from the cold winter that has passed. However, this year has brought us all a whole new challenge we had never expected and has plunged us all into a world of remote working, social distancing and placed our home Internet at the forefront of our lives.
While the corporate world has poured tons of money and resources to protect us from cyber threats at our workplace the home internet connection has not received the level of cyber protection that we all now desperately need and we must take new precautions to protect our computers and our mobile devices from cyber criminals taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to attack us where we live.
Our companies have taken protective measures to add software and hardware to our work devices that we use at home when connected to the corporate network and that is a wonderful thing. However, we now are using our home internet, shared with our kids, parents and friends to conduct our daily lives. With the plethora of personal devices all sharing the same home internet it is now crucial that we take certain measures to protect our valuable work and personal data from a new type of attack we didn’t envision only a few months ago.
Our Gateway to the World – The Internet Router
Our home internet router, be it wireless, wired or cable connected is our gateway to the world and it is shared by everyone in the household. It is the single most important entry and exit point for all information at our home and it is vital that we lock down that device as much as possible to keep cyber criminals out. Here are some important steps you can take to protect yourself and others.
• Update your software on your router often. Many router manufactures have automatic update features that check for new software daily to make sure all security patches are up to date and cyber vulnerabilities patched. If your device has this feature turn it on. If it does not have this feature, then you can update the software manually.
• Check your router logs daily. If an attacker is trying to hack your home network the connection and event logs in your router will show evidence of the possible attack
• Reset your router weekly if not daily. Resetting your router will disconnect all devices and force all devices to reconnect with the current password.
• Change your router password weekly or monthly while this pandemic is in place. This is one more protective step you can take to protect yourself and others
We are normally accustomed to our kids coming home from school and gaming at night but now that they are home all day they need to understand adult work on the internet is the first priority and gaming must be limited or controlled as not to pose a security risk and take the much needed bandwidth used for work environments. Additionally, you may now be faced with extra guests in your household sharing your internet. Here are a few simple rules can go a long way in making the internet work for all parties in the household.
• Limit gaming connections at your router. Most internet routers today have a feature to limit speeds to certain devices and this is the most effective way to guarantee your kids are adhering to the new rules. Simply log into your router and check the firewall or parental controls section to make these speed limit changes.
• Setup guest internet accounts on your wireless or wired router. Guest accounts can be limited by time, speed and/or firewall rules to help protect your guests from cyber-attacks. You may be diligent on keeping your antivirus and software up to date, but they may not be. Remember, you are all sharing the same network and if their systems are vulnerable, they can open a gateway to attack your computer.
• Don’t be afraid to ask your guests to show you that they have the latest software and anti-virus on their devices. It isn’t rude, it is prudent.
Setup A Guest Computer
If you have an extra computer, it may be prudent to set it up for guest access just like hotels do. Having a controlled point of internet access in your home that has all the latest software, anti-virus and protective measures is a safe thing to do in today’s new remote working world. If you don’t have an extra computer, you may be able to use one of your current computers and setup a guest account on it to limit access to only the internet.
Our mobile devices have become the epicenter of our daily lives inside the home and out. It is important to remember that these devices are computers and have the same types of software and virus protection to protect them from hackers. Android and Apple models both have automatic update features on them to install the latest software that includes security patches for both the core operating system and apps on the phones, so it is important that they are up to date with the latest protection. Some further simple steps can help protect your valuable data.
• Setup a wireless guest account for mobile devices that are not your own, even your kids. Limiting devices connected to your home network to just internet access is not just a good idea, it is prudent.
• Don’t be afraid to check guest mobile devices for the latest software.
• Check your router logs often to see if there is any activity that looks suspicious from a mobile device.
Smart Home Devices
Our smart home devices like Alexa, Google Home and all the connected devices in our homes have made life simpler but come at great risk right now as we use our homes as the epicenter of our connected lives. We need to remember that devices like Alexa listen to anyone who commands them and that the devices they control are just as susceptible for a cyber-attack as our mobile phones or laptops. In fact, they can be more susceptible to a cyber-attack. You need to ask yourself when the last time you updated your smart light controls or your home security camera software? Maybe never? Now is the time to start securing your smart home devices by taking some simple, initial steps.
• Mute devices like Alexa and Google Home when you have guests in the house. This simple measure can help with unwanted commands or access.
• Update your smart device software monthly. Your smart devices have user access just like a mobile device or laptop and it is important to make sure they are up to date with the latest software for that device.
• Check your smart device logs for unwanted access. Most devices have a log history that will show when they have been accessed.
• Unplug Alexa and Google Home control centers when you are away from home. This may be a slight inconvenience but could save on an unwanted cyber-attack or unauthorized use.
As we all adjust to the new normal, it’s important we take these precautions when using wireless technologies. Taking proactive measures to ensure we are exercising safe practices will help prevent, and ultimately save your household, from expensive cyber-attacks. If you are unsure if the technology in your home is equipped to prevent cyber-attacks, reach out to the experts at Business Information Group today.