When is the last time you paid attention to cyber security at home?
If you are like most other households- the last time you thought about your ISP and router is during initial setup. Unless of course your internet goes out and everyone in the family converges on you in the living room.
Have you taken the proper steps at home to protect your home network and devices? How do you know if your home network is secure?
You may assume your ISP is providing protection. That’s why you pay the big bucks right? This is unfortunately not 100% accurate. While your ISP is responsible for some protection, the burden is on you to ensure your home network and all devices connected to it are secure.
Here is a quick home cyber security quiz:
- Do you know what devices are using your home Wi-Fi right now at this very moment?
- Do you know how to log into your ISP account and your modem?
- Have you ever changed the default passwords for your modem? How long ago?
- Are all home devices up to date in terms of security and operating system software?
- Do you know every app your children have downloaded onto their mobile devices / laptops?
- Do you know with certainty if your devices are free from malware or viruses?
Feeling a bit uncomfortable?
Not everyone is tech savvy or has a cyber security expert they can ask questions, so we sat down with our team here at Emtec to put together a list of the most critical items that families should review regularly to ensure they are following good cyber security management and best practices at home.
We also include some great resources (with links!) you can use to educate yourself and your family on potential cyber security risks and how to reduce them.
Cyber Security Tip #1: Ensure Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) Account and Modem/Router are Secure
Accessing your ISP Account
Your modem/router and your ISP account are your gateway to the internet. Are they secure? First, make sure you how to access your ISP account (ex. Comcast/Xfinity, Cox, Century link, HughesNnet, Spectrum, etc.) and that your user and password are not easily guessed. Keep your passwords in a safe place – preferably stored away from your modem.
Once you are logged into your account take some time and look around. Review your settings, authorized users, devices, and other information. While you are there, set up Multi-factor authentication, if offered, for an added layer of protection. Only approved users should be able to gain access your account, settings, and personal information.
Make sure you know how to contact your ISP’s tech support if needed. If you want to “set it and forget it”, contact your ISP to see if they offer a service to manage your modem for you.
Accessing Your Modem/Router
While in your ISP account, you should see your wireless modem/router listed as a device and can log into it. If purchased separately and not managed by your ISP, you may have to log into your router separately. Do you know how? If you are unsure, the default or preset user and password is usually located on the bottom of your router. Now is the time to open that user manual and test that login and see if it works. If it does- change it immediately and make note of it in a safe place so no one else can access your modem.
Once you have logged into your modem, look at your settings. If you have not changed your Wi-Fi password in a while- now is the time to do so… a good practice is changing this once a month.
Updating Your SSID
It is a good idea to change your SSID name to something that isn’t easily linked to your home (hint don’t use identifiable information like “The Jones family”). Another good tip is don’t broadcast your SSID. You can hide it in your router’s settings. This will make it more challenging to hijack your Wi-Fi.
Cyber Security Tip #2: Know what Devices are Connected to your Home Network
Knowing WHAT devices are on your home network is important to understand WHO is on your network. This not only pertains to your laptops, desktops, printers, gaming systems, and phones but also any IoT enabled devices including smart TVs and appliances (dishwashers, refrigerators), security cameras, and even smart lightbulbs!
Be able to Identify all devices on your home network
You should be able to access and manage the devices connected to your network via your ISP’s portal. Review regularly to ensure you can identify every device listed. Do you have an odd device listed with a bunch of numbers/digits that you are unsure of? Remove it!
Create a guest network
If your ISP offers it, create a “guest” network for anyone that may need access to your Wi-Fi while visiting your home. This will allow your children’s friends or visiting family members to access the internet without increasing your risk from outside and potentially compromised devices. Unsure how to go about doing this? Contact your ISP tech support! They are there to help you.
Cyber Security Tip #3: Exhibit Good Home Computing Hygiene
Next you need to extend your cyber security audit outward to all your devices. Every device that connects is a potential risk. Make sure all devices that you previously validated on your ISP account are properly defended or protected against threats from the internet.
Modem/Router Software Updates
Do you know when the last time your modem, router software was updated? Check to make sure your internet service provider is updating it automatically or if you need to complete this task yourself.
Protecting your Laptops, Desktops, Mobile Devices, Printers
Check these systems regularly and install any operating system updates. It is best to enable automated updates where you can. Next, make sure your Windows and IOS based devices have their built-in security protection tools enabled (i.e. Windows Security app). For added protection, enable antivirus and anti-malware agents – especially on children’s devices to disinfect any rogue computer code and malware unintentionally downloaded.
Managing the Security of your IoT Devices
Have a smart tv, kitchen appliance, security cameras connected to your Amazon Alexa or Google Home? These are sweet spots for threat actors to compromise your home network. Check your manual or contact your device manufacturer to learn how to update these devices.
Cyber Security Tip #4: Practice Safe Online Shopping and Digital Banking
Securely Shop Online
While online shopping from the comfort of your couch is a lifesaver – this comes with potential cyber security pitfalls. When conducting sales online, you want to ensure you keep your home network, devices, and personal data safe. With holiday shopping right around the corner, review these important tips before interacting with merchants online - "10 Safety Tips for Holiday Online Shopping”.
Protect Online Financial Transactions
Do you utilize online banking to pay your bills, send payments to friends, or transfer money between accounts? Banking transactions while connected to Wi-Fi can absolutely be compromised by cyber criminals. For financial transactions, it is best to only use a network and dedicated device you know is secure to reduce your risk of being compromised.
Yes, You Are a Target
I know your first inclination is to think “why would someone target me?” If someone can use you or your personal information for financial gain, you are absolutely a potential target.
As we shift into a primarily digital society - your digital footprint is alive and well across the internet. You not only need to protect your personal information in the physical realm (wallet, birth certificate SS number, credit cards, devices), you now need to protect your personal information in your digital life.
Here are just a few examples of how you can be unwittingly compromised:
- Your teen who is an avid online gamer clicks a link on an email that spoofed their gaming community
- Your child clicks on a cute pop up for a free toy when surfing on google
- You have an aspiring hacker in your neighborhood
- Someone wants to get access to your company network (yes, this happens all the time)
If you work remotely and log into a company VPN, these home-based threats can turn into a substantial company threat quite easily. For more tips on how to stay cyber safe when you are working at home- check out our blog “Cyber Security Tips for Employees Working Remotely in the COVID-19 Era”.
Need I say more?
It is important to educate your family members on the potential dangers and stay diligent throughout the year to stay protected from cyber security threats.
These are just a few activities to get you started. For more information about how to #BeCyberSmart, check out the free resources below including the National Cyber Security Alliance and their on-demand webinar on how to keep your family safe online.
Cyber Security Resources
- National Cyber Security Alliance- https://staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/
- National Cyber Security Alliance On-demand Webcast: Keeping Your Family Safe Online: Securing Your Home and Devices- https://staysafeonline.org/resource/keeping-your-family-safe-online/
- Internet Crime Complaint Center- http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
- Federal Trade Commission- http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts
- Emtec Cyber security blog- https://explore.emtecinc.com/blog/topic/cyber-security