How to keep your home internet network secure

Is your home under attack from hackers?

If you any wireless devices linked to the internet, such as computers, tablets, games consoles, and  smartphones, there’s every chance someone could hack your network and access your data. Even if you have smart devices such as printers and even kettles, you could be at risk of attack.

And you may be completely unaware until it’s too late.

The danger could be even more acute if you work from home and access sensitive or confidential business files via the wireless network.

So it’s vital to keep security tight – here’s how to secure your home network.

Keeping your home network secure

There are a number of ways to ensure your home network is secure. Here are our top tips.

Keep your devices up to date

The first thing to do is make sure all of your devices have up-to-date security software installed as well as the latest operating system.

And regularly run anti-virus software to make sure there is no malware lurking on your machine.

Secure your wireless router

Using a wireless network is the most convenient way to allow a number of devices to connect to the internet simultaneously – in fact, it’s probably the only way to ensure a connection from devices placed around the house (unless you have massive ethernet cables trailing everywhere).

When you go wireless, everyone connects to the internet via a router, and if this isn’t secured then others may be able use your internet access while you pay for it – they’ll probably help to slow down the connection for everyone else while they’re at it.

Worse still, if they hop on to your unsecured network they may find a way to access information on your computer, or commit other cybercrimes using your IP address – meaning the police could come calling if the crimes are traced back to you.

So, to secure your router you should:

  • Change the name of your router – The default ID – called a service set identifier” (SSID) or “extended service set identifier” (ESSID ) – is assigned by the manufacturer, so you may want to change it to something only the people in your house will recognise.
  • Change the password – You should regularly change the password on your router, every month or so, and when creating a new password, make sure you use a strong mix of numbers, letters and symbols.
  • Review your security – If you have to choose the level of security for your router, opt for WPA2 or WPA. Both are more secure than WEP.
  • Create a password for guests – If your router allows guests to use the network via a separate password, make sure you change this every couple of weeks. This is particularly important if you work from home.
  • Use a firewall – A firewall helps keep hackers from using your computer to send out your personal information without your permission. Whereas anti-virus software scans incoming email and files, a firewall work the other way around and looks out for attempts to access your system. If the firewall sees something it doesn’t like it will block access. You’ll probably have a pre-installed firewall on your devices so make sure they’re turned on.

Beware incoming attacks

Even with all these security features in place, you could still have your network attacked if you allow hackers a way in – so always beware of pop-ups that could contain malware and never open suspicious looking email attachments, even from someone you know as they may have been hacked somewhere along the way.

And when shopping online, always make sure the payment page is on a secure network, you’ll know this as the address will start ‘https:’ and not ‘http:’

So, in a nutshell…

How to secure your home network

  • Use anti-virus software and a firewall and keep both updated along with the operating systems on all devices.
  • Update the firmware on your router and change the default admin names and passwords. Log out when you have finished configuring it. Turn off WPS and use WPA or WPA2 instead of WEP.
  • Don’t open any suspicious looking emails or attachments, even if sent from someone you know.
  • Check the security of any other internet-connected devices (cameras, televisions and other “smart” devices) and, if possible, turn off their web interfaces.