Computer networks are a very important part of our lives. They help us stay connected to the world, and allow us to do things like work remotely or stream videos. However, they also pose certain security risks that can be tough for many people to manage on their own.
This article provides 13 tips for checking your home network’s security level so you can be sure it is safe from hackers.
Tip 1: Do a Password Audit
Check all the passwords that you have made. Some people make many different accounts and end up using simple, easy-to-remember passwords for each one of them.
If any of your devices are stolen or hacked these weak passwords will be compromised as well. Make sure they are difficult to break by having letters, numbers, and symbols.
One way to make sure that you have difficult passwords is by using a password manager. This will automatically generate secure passwords for all the accounts you need and save them in an encrypted file so they cannot be hacked easily. For further guidance, check out our article on how to secure your passwords.
Tip 2: Know What You Have Connected to Your Network
Sometimes we join our home networks with things that can be dangerous. For example, printers or speakers tend to have their own WiFi connection and are usually not password protected for convenience’s sake.
If you do not need them on your network it is best to disconnect them to prevent outsiders from hacking into your home network.
Tip 3: Check Your Hardware
Do a quick audit of your hardware and make sure none of the devices has been tampered with. This is especially important if you have any smart devices in your home which connect to the Internet through their own networks such as a smart TV or even a digital assistant like Alexa.
Even though they might not be directly connected to the Internet, they can still be hacked.
Tip 4: Check if Your Router is Up to Date
There are two ways you can update your router. First, check with the manufacturer’s website and see which firmware updates have been released for it recently. You should apply these as soon as possible or risk vulnerabilities being exploited through them.
Second, check with your ISP. They may have customized firmware updates that need to be applied before normal ones can be used, so it never hurts to check in and see if they’re available.
Tip 5: Change Your Router Password
Changing your router password should only take you a minute and will reduce your security risks significantly. Make sure that it is difficult to guess by having letters, numbers, and symbols in it too.
Also, change the default IP address of the router because hackers know it well and will use it to find out where your router is and break into the network.
Tip 6: See if Your Devices Are Up to Date
Check your software and operating system updates. Just like passwords, many people keep their devices outdated which can leave them exposed to known security holes that have been patched in the new versions.
Updating your OS will give you access to the latest security patches, bug fixes and enhancements for better user experience. These updates are also important because they fix any vulnerabilities in specific systems or programs which hackers can exploit if not fixed by the manufacturer.
Using an old version of a device or OS leaves you open to hackers who know how to exploit those vulnerabilities.
Tip 7: Use a VPN Service
If you do any sort of work over the internet or stream videos then using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a must. VPNs encrypt all data sent and received so your ISP cannot see what you are doing or where you go online.
They also hide the public IP address assigned to your home network by routing it through one of their servers, which makes tracking who has done what much more difficult for hackers and spies alike.
Tip 8: Turn Off Unused Ports and Network Adapters
Using a lot of unnecessary ports can make your network vulnerable to security problems such as viruses or hackers breaking into it through those open ends. If you don’t use them, turn them off so they are not active anymore. This is especially important when it comes to your router.
Tip 9: Turn on Your Firewall
Even if you have a strong password, hackers can still break in through the ports of the firewall so make sure this has been turned on and is active all the time. Otherwise, they will find their way into your home network without any resistance from that end.
Tip 10: Look for Unauthorized Apps
Check your devices to see if there are any unauthorized apps installed. There have been many cases where hackers install spyware on computers without anyone noticing, and they can get private information this way.
This won’t be detected by antivirus software because it is not a virus or malware but instead legit software that was installed on purpose.
Tip 11: Turn on Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication is an extra layer of security that you can set up for your accounts. This way, even if someone has the password they won’t be able to log in unless they also have access to a phone or email account listed as one of two factors for logging into it.
Turning on two-factor authentication is a really important step in securing your account.
It will make it so that whenever you try to access an app or site using two-factor authentication, the password alone won’t be enough to get into your device. You’ll need another way of proving it’s actually you trying to log in.
Tip 12: Check for Malware
One of the biggest security risks that many people face is malware. If you notice any strange pop-ups or redirects, these could be signs of a problem. It’s important to delete suspicious emails and websites as well as update your antivirus software if this happens on your device.
Tip 13: Scan Your Devices for Viruses
You can easily do this on your Windows or Mac computers. However, some people think that because they are not connected to the internet their devices will be safe from viruses and spyware. This is not true at all.
It’s very easy for someone to spread a virus through USB sticks so you have to make sure you do regular scans.