Home Wi-Fi offers many conveniences, including the freedom to move around with connected devices like tablets and speakers. You can also stream content on TVs in any room and sync your outdoor lights according to schedule. However, the more gadgets your home has, the more vulnerable your network becomes.
Hackers aren’t just looking to attack your router. They can also easily access your network and sensitive information through laptops and smart devices. Protecting your Wi-Fi network’s router from unwanted activities and attacks is an essential first step. But you also need to defend any connected device cybercriminals can use to disrupt your network and steal data. Let’s look at some ways to keep your Wi-Fi and connected devices secure.
Network security software goes a step beyond anti-malware software. While the latter is installed on each device, network security solutions guard against threats to the entire network. This includes any devices that connect to Wi-Fi. Network-level solutions also take Wi-Fi security to the next level by monitoring several types of threats.
These risks include ransomware, malware, and denial of service attacks. Network security solutions work to create a virtual wall cybercriminals find difficult to get through. Plus, these solutions have built-in AI and machine learning capabilities. The software quickly learns which threats your home network faces the most and shuts them down before any havoc begins.
Phones, laptops, and smart devices have software and firmware that occasionally needs updates. Most software changes contain security patches to correct known vulnerabilities cybercriminals exploit. Your devices’ operating systems, web browsers, and apps are good examples.
Each of these programs receives updates from the developer as they’re released. However, the machine the applications are on has to connect to the internet long enough to download them. And if you don’t turn on automatic updates, you have to manually trigger the download and installation process. Switching on automatic updates in the settings ensures your devices get the latest security patches. You should also check to see whether those software updates are going through.
Many internet service providers give you one of their routers in exchange for a monthly fee. These routers sometimes include a Wi-Fi hotspot that lets guests connect their devices. Some routers let you create separate guest networks instead. While many service providers’ hotspots are unsecured or public by default, you can set up passwords on guest networks.
These network names and passwords can remain separate from your main Wi-Fi. Visitors in your home or contractors that need to connect can use your guest network instead. This way, you’ll be limiting the number of people who know your primary Wi-Fi network’s password. After contractors and visitors leave, you can change the guest network’s password or temporarily disable it.
If you don’t like the idea of your router broadcasting a public hotspot, you can turn it off. Your internet service provider will usually let you do this from your account settings. You can also decline the option to rent your provider’s equipment and purchase a compatible router. You’ll have more control over the setup and can create separate guest networks if you want.
Needless to say, the passwords to your Wi-Fi network and router should be different. But all the logins you use for your devices, apps, and online accounts should likewise vary. These passwords need to be complex or difficult for hackers to guess.
Strong passwords typically leave out personal details like your birthday. Instead, they have eight or more random uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers. Most complex passwords have special characters like percent signs, exclamation points, or asterisks. You should also avoid consecutive numbers or known words and phrases.
You’ll make it harder for hackers to gain access by using different complex passwords on all your devices and accounts. Some people use password managers to automatically generate strong passwords. This prevents duplication and eliminates the need to remember or write down a bunch of logins. You can also turn on two-factor authentication or fingerprint and retina scan features on some smart devices.
Every device that connects to your Wi-Fi networks has an address. In tech terms, it’s the MAC — or media access control — address. A device’s MAC address becomes its identity while it’s connected to your network. You can use these addresses to help keep your Wi-Fi more secure from unauthorized access and use.
Many routers allow you to block connections from any device with a MAC address that’s not on a filtered list. Once you have the MAC addresses from all your gadgets, you can add them to a list of allowed devices. Go ahead and name them so you’ll know when your smart TV or game console is on the network. MAC filtering also works in the opposite way. You can allow all connections except for a list of unwanted devices.
Protecting your network against device-related threats is as critical as securing your router. Devices, especially smartphones, are easy targets for hackers because they’re often unsecured. Gadgets also run multiple applications that become vulnerable to intrusions and attacks.
Keeping tabs on every connected device all the time can seem overwhelming, but it needn’t be. Network-level solutions, such as security software and MAC address filtering, can help control and manage equipment-related risks. With strong protective measures like these, you can successfully safeguard your home Wi-Fi from cybercriminal activity.