No one can deny, it’s an incredible time for technology. From medicine, to business and transport our world is being continuously shaped by new advances, but probably the most noticeable influence is in our homes.
Blackhat hackers want one thing – information. Whether it’s data to sell on to third parties, holding your files captive via a blackmail virus, or stealing something as sinister as your bank details, criminal hackers ultimately want to make money from you.
Where your network is most vulnerable and 9 steps to fix this.
1. The #1 Weakness in Your Network – YOU
If you aren’t a hard-core tech enthusiast it can be easy to bury your head in the sand when it comes to home network security – it’s a daunting topic! Our tech devices are impressive so it is easy to assume they can do EVERYTHING. And even when we are aware of their limitations most of us still cross our fingers and hope for the best.
Your home network needs to be treated like your actual home – if your front door was missing a lock would you leave it open for strangers to walk in? No. The same applies to your network.
The first step of network security is being proactive. Using a network scanner, identify who is on your network so you can seek out any intruders. This doesn’t have to cost you a penny – our Fing app is the best free network scanning app out there, and is very easy to use.
2. Next, Secure that Open Wi-Fi
Everyone loves a generous soul, but leaving your personal home network open is sadly just a hacking disaster waiting to happen. Anyone on your Wi-Fi has access you all your unsecured web traffic, and this information in the wrong hands is not going to end well. So, secure that Wi-fi with a strong password and use your best free network scanner to make sure only people you trust are using it.
3. Protect Your Router
Consumer-grade routers are depressingly vulnerable to hacking. They are manufactured to be affordable and so security is often sacrificed. Your router is the heart of your network. All the traffic from your devices runs through it so protecting it is vital. There are many high-quality routers on the market, but if you are looking for an affordable alternative then a network security toolkit, such as our very own Fingbox, will suit you better. Simply plug it into your current router and instantly start to block intruders from accessing your network.
4. Create a Top-Notch Security System
As you can see, hackers can enter your network via various different methods. Many people put in one security barrier and hope that will do, but only securing one front leaves you severely exposed. As mentioned before, the first line of defense every home should have is a network security toolkit – Fingbox, for example, allows you to know who is on your network, get 24/7 alerts of new devices and block physical network trespassers.
You can then add in further lines of defense through anti-virus software and firewalls that can protect your devices from the threats that enter via your Internet interactions. There are a lot of options on the market for this, so make sure to do your research, and if in doubt speak with an IT security expert.
5. Bin the Poor Passwords
This is probably the biggest (and most obvious) point we leave ourselves open to hacking. Weak passwords are a hacker’s dream come true, so don’t make it easy for them. Here are 3 quick tips for password success:
Make them strong – avoid just using words found in the dictionary, significant dates or names. Include capitals, numbers and symbols where possible – the more complex the better.
Dump the defaults – if you can, never keep a default password. Keeping it means you are relying on the security of the source that administered it, so if they get hacked you get hacked. Software and devices can also sometimes have default passwords to access things we’re not even aware of, so check with the supplier that you aren’t missing any.
Don’t repeat – it is so tempting to have the same password for everything, but if a hacker cracks one entry point then they then have access to everything else with the same password.
6. Keep Software Updated
No one likes waiting for a software update (we’re all busy people!) but updates are a necessary part of network security. They often provide new, vital security tools to protect the software or the device they are installed on. Not keeping your software up to date can leave you vulnerable to the latest methods of hacking. Same goes for apps, firewalls and anti-virus software. It may be annoying to have wait for that device to update, but it will be way more annoying if a hacker gets into it.
7. Ditch the Dodgy Free Software Dealings
Downloading pirated software or files may seem like a bargain, but this is incredibly risky business when it comes to your network’s security. Hackers know that we can’t resist the word ‘FREE’ and so attach viruses right onto the latest ‘free’ music or film you want. All you have to do is click the download button and you have invited that virus, and the hacker, right onto your device. Save yourself the stress and go legit when downloading.
Some will be obvious – an email from a stranger with an odd, confusing message. Others may have appeared to have come from a friend, or a reputable company, and so will be a lot harder to spot. These will often have a compelling reason for you to click, but if you hover over the link it will display the web address. Here you can see if the domain name seems legitimate. If in doubt, contact the company or friend separately to confirm they sent it.
9. Beware of Exposed Websites
With many aspects of our lives now being online, the Internet is a massive information resource for hackers. Downloading documents, filling out forms or making purchases are all interactions that result in us exchanging personal information with the web, and vulnerable websites are the perfect place for hackers to eavesdrop.
One simple thing to do before exchanging information with a website is to check the address bar. If the web address has ‘https’ at the start then there is a secure encrypted connection between yourself and the site, so it is likely to be safe. If it just says ‘http’ then this encryption isn’t there. Any information you exchange on a website like this is open for a hacker to see – NEVER enter personal information into a http site!
Network hacking is increasingly on the rise, but making these simple changes can give you the peace of mind to browse your devices privately and securely.