Even if you are a veritable workaholic, you likely only spend about 80 hours per week at the office — which means you enjoy the remaining 80 or so at home. When you are at home, you might check your business email, use devices that you use to access business data or otherwise mingle your home and business tech. Unfortunately, this can expose your business data and devices to danger, especially if you don’t use the same standards of security at home as you do at work.
As a consumer, you need to take steps to protect your home from attack in similar ways to how you protect your business. Though the products and methods might be slightly different, you can apply what you know to keep your home network safe. Here’s how.
Start With Your Endpoints
Endpoints are any devices connected to your home network that you (or other people in your home) use. A few years ago, your home endpoints likely included only your computers and smartphones — but these days, you could have dozens of devices connected to your network.
Today, more than a third of consumers have at least two smart home devices, which include things like smart plugs, lightbulbs, cameras, speakers, appliances, TVs and more. While there are definite benefits to smart tech, such as convenience and efficiency, many smart devices are not adequately secure. Stories abound of hackers getting into home networks through refrigerators, baby monitors and other seemingly innocuous devices. Thus, it isn’t enough to install antivirus programs on your computer and smartphone; you also need maximum security protection on all your smart devices.
To do this, you should change all default information on each device. That means changing usernames and passwords and perhaps beefing up any security features available on your devices. Additionally, you should ensure that your devices are receiving regular updates, which will close gaping vulnerabilities and address other emerging security issues. These tips also apply to your computers and smartphones.
Harden Your Network
Next, you should take steps to ensure that hackers can’t get into your devices and data through your home network. You might not think it, but your internet router is easily the most important device in your home — not just because it provides access to the exceedingly valuable web but also because it connects all your devices together, giving attackers an easy access point for every digital device in your home. Thus, it is critical that you harden your home network if you want to keep hackers out.
As always, you should start by changing the default username and password on your router. Because default settings are published online, hackers have easy access to them; in fact, many malicious programs are built to cycle through default credentials in seconds, which has provided access to more home networks than you might expect. Your password should be as random as possible, and your network name shouldn’t offer challenges to hackers, like “Unbreakable” or “Can’t Crack This.” Still, any deviation from the default is a positive one.
There are a few additional settings you can enact to ensure your network is the utmost secure. For one, you should require new, unfamiliar devices to acquire your approval before they connect to your network. Further, you can set up a separate network for your smart home devices, so if a vulnerability lets in a hacker, they still won’t have access to your data-rich smartphones and computers. Finally, you should get in the habit of turning off your home network when you aren’t around to use it. This decreases the time hackers have available to puncture your defenses and ensures you will be on-site if anything should go awry.
Develop Smart Habits
Cybersecurity begins and ends with users, to include yourself. If you aren’t practicing smart behavior when you are at home, your home network and devices will never be safe — no matter what kind of security tools and software you install. Some basic home cyber hygiene you need to develop includes:
- Lock your devices. It might be inconvenient to sign back in whenever you turn off your device’s screen, but even this basic lock could save your data.
- Automate updates. Just as your smart home gadgets need updates, your computer and smartphone apps need them, too. In your settings, you can allow updates to download and install automatically, and you should.
- Back up data. Even if you aren’t hacked, your data is at risk of corruption and elimination due to falls, spills and other accidental disasters. You should have two forms of backup: one in the cloud and one on a physical, detachable hard drive.
If you recognize cyber threats to your business, you should admit that those same cyber threats follow you home. By putting the same effort into your home cybersecurity, you can ensure your devices and data stay safe no matter where you are.