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How to Improve the Security of Your Home Network

Arthur Dellea is a freelance PC expert who enjoys adventures with his wife and children, playing drums at church, and investigative writing.

You may drastically lower the attack surface of your home network.

You may drastically lower the attack surface of your home network.

Why Is Securing Your Home Network Important?

Home network security is the defense of a home network, which links gadgets like routers, PCs, smartphones, and Wi-Fi-enabled baby monitors and webcams to one another and to the internet.

Two widespread misconceptions regarding network security are held by many home users: either they think their networks are too tiny to be vulnerable to cyberattacks, or they think their gadgets are "safe enough" out of the box.

The majority of attacks are not of a personal nature and can happen on any kind of network—large or small, residential or commercial. A network is naturally more open to outside threats if it is connected to the internet.

Set Up and Maintain Your Router’s Firewall Correctly

The majority of wireless routers have a network firewall that can be customized to meet your networking environment and offers extra functions like access controls, web filtering, and denial-of-service (DoS) defense. Your home network can be protected from harmful traffic by a firewall, which can also warn you of potentially risky activity. When configured correctly, it can also act as a defense against internal dangers by keeping undesirable or harmful applications from connecting to the internet.

Bear in mind that the firewall itself may be disabled by default for some firewall functionality. Your network's security will be strengthened if your firewall is turned on and all the settings are set up correctly. Please take note that your internet service provider (ISP) may be able to assist you in determining whether your firewall is configured with the best settings for the specific hardware and environment you are using.

Updates to the firmware improve the functionality of the product, correct bugs, and address security flaws. It should be noted that some routers allow you to enable automatic updates. To make sure you are using the most recent firmware version, visit the website of the manufacturer of your router.

Change Factory Default Settings

Many software and hardware items have extremely lenient factory default settings when they are first purchased in an effort to make them more user-friendly and speed up customer service's troubleshooting process. These default settings, sadly, are not designed with security in mind.

After installation, leaving them active can give attackers extra access points to exploit. To lessen vulnerabilities and defend against invasions, users should take actions to harden the default configuration options.

Disable WPS and UPNP Services

Without having to enter the password for the wireless network, WPS offers streamlined methods for wireless devices to connect to Wi-Fi networks. However, because it alerts hackers when the first half of the eight-digit PIN is right, a design error in the WPS specification for PIN authentication dramatically reduces the time needed for them to brute force a full PIN. A brute-force assault is far more likely to happen because many routers don't have a sufficient lockout procedure in place after a predetermined number of unsuccessful PIN guessing attempts.

Networked devices can easily find and establish connection with one another on the network thanks to the useful function known as UPnP. The UPnP feature facilitates initial network setting, but it also poses a security threat. The use of UPnP by malware on your network to get through your router's firewall, provide attackers remote access to your devices, and spread malware to other devices has been demonstrated by recent large-scale network attacks. Therefore, unless you have an unique need for it, you should disable UPnP.

Limit or Schedule Your Wi-Fi Signals

The range of your Wi-Fi signal regularly extends outside the walls of your house. This prolonged emission makes it possible for outsiders to listen in on your network. Therefore, give antenna positioning, antenna type, and transmission power levels great consideration. You can lessen your Wi-Fi network's transmitting coverage and lower the chance of compromise by experimenting with the location of your router and signal power settings. This lowers your danger, but a determined attacker might still be able to intercept a signal with patchy coverage.

While constantly turning the Wi-Fi signal on and off might not be realistic, you could want to disable it while traveling or for extended periods of time when you won't need to be online. A wireless schedule that automatically turns off Wi-Fi at predetermined times can also be set up on many routers. By turning off your Wi-Fi, you stop potential outside intruders from using your household network for their own gain.

Disable Remote Configuration and Monitor Unknown Devices

The majority of routers give users the choice of seeing and changing their settings remotely. To prevent unauthorized users from gaining access to and altering the configuration of your router, disable this option.

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To keep an eye out for unauthorized devices joining or attempting to join your network, use the manufacturer's webpage for your router. For advice on how to stop illegal devices from connecting to your network, also check the manufacturer's website.

Use a Software Firewall to Increase Security

Consider putting a software firewall on every computer linked to your network in addition to the network firewall. Software firewalls examine and filter incoming and outgoing network traffic from computers in accordance with a predetermined policy or set of rules. The majority of contemporary Windows and Linux operating systems include an integrated, programmable, and feature-rich firewall.

Additionally, the majority of software firewalls include extra security features like parental controls, email protection, and harmful website blocking bundled in their antivirus software packages.

Choose Strong Passwords

Pick secure passwords to further protect your gadgets, and avoid using the same password across other accounts. This will prevent the hacker from accessing any of your other accounts in the event that one of your accounts is compromised. To make setup easier, the majority of network devices are pre-configured with default administrator passwords. These default passwords are not safe; they might be prominently displayed on the device itself or easily found online.

If these are not altered, bad cyber actors may be able to access information without authorization, install malicious software, and cause other issues. The administrator password for your router should be changed in order to guard against attacks utilizing the default credentials.

Disable Excess Services and Remove Unused Software

To lessen the attack surface of your network and devices, including your router, disable all excess services. Unused or unwanted software and services can introduce security flaws into a device's operating system, increasing the attack surface of your network environment.

This is especially true for brand-new computers, which frequently come pre-installed with a ton of trial software and bloatware that you might not find useful. You should look into and get rid of any software or services that are not regularly utilized.

Update Your Software Regularly

One of the best things you can do to strengthen the overall cybersecurity posture of your home networks and systems is to do regular software updates. Software updates frequently include crucial patches and security fixes for recently found threats and vulnerabilities in addition to new features and capabilities. The majority of contemporary software programs automatically check for recently available upgrades.

Consider investing in a piece of software that locates and centrally controls all installed software updates if automated updates are not an option.

Back Up Your Important Files

Create and keep regular backup copies of all important data on your device on external media or a cloud-based service. Use a backup tool from a third party to streamline and automate the procedure. To safeguard the integrity and confidentiality of your data, be careful to encrypt your backup. Data backups are essential to lessen the effects of data loss, corruption, infection, or theft.

Protection From Malware Is Crucial

A reliable anti-malware software program is a crucial defense against well-known dangerous threats. It can automatically find, entrap, and get rid of several kinds of malware, including malware, worms, and ransomware. Many anti-malware programs are incredibly simple to set up and operate. I recommend installing anti-malware software on every computer and mobile device connected to your home network. To provide the best defense against the most recent threats, make sure to allow automatic malware definition updates.

It should be noted that even the greatest anti-malware software cannot adequately protect against new and sophisticated threats like zero-day vulnerabilities and polymorphic malware because detection is dependent on signatures, which are well-known patterns that can identify code as malicious.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2022 Arthur Dellea

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