Securing Your Home Network

Source: http://www.staysafeonline.org/

A protected home network means your family can use the Internet safely and securely.

Most households now run networks of devices linked to the Internet, including computers, laptops, gaming devices, TVs, tablets, and smartphones that access wireless networks. To protect your home network and your family, you need to have the right tools in place and confidence that family members can use the Internet safely and securely.

The first step is to Keep a Clean Machine and make sure all of your Internet-enabled devices have the latest operating system, web browsers and security software. This includes mobile devices that access your wireless network.

Secure Your Wireless Router

A wireless network means connecting an Internet access point – such as a cable or DSL modem – to a wireless router. Going wireless is a convenient way to allow multiple devices to connect to the Internet from different areas of your home. However, unless you secure your router, you’re vulnerable to people accessing information on your computer, using your Internet service for free and potentially using your network to commit cybercrimes.

Here are ways to secure your wireless router:

  • Change the name of your router: The default ID - called a service set identifier (SSIS) or extended service set identifier (ESSID ) – is assigned by the manufacturer. Change your router to a name that is unique to you and won't be easily guessed by others.
  • Change the pre-set password on your router: When creating a new password, make sure it is long and strong, using a mix of numbers, letters and symbols.
  • Review security options: When choosing your router’s level of security, opt for WPA2, if available, or WPA. They are more secure than the WEP option.
  • Create a guest password: Some routers allow for guests to use the network via a separate password.  If you have many visitors to your home, it's a good idea to set up a guest network.
  • Use a firewall: Firewalls help keep hackers from using your computer to send out your personal information without your permission. While anti-virus software scans incoming email and files, a firewall is like a guard, watching for attempts to access your system and blocking communications with sources you don't permit. Your operating system and/or security software likely comes with a pre-installed firewall, but make sure you turn on these features.