Almost every home now relies on a network to wirelessly connect with computers, tablets, smartphones and even TVs. But how secure is your network?
If you’re doing online banking, shopping online and sending your personal details over the wireless network, then it’s of utmost importance that you make sure your network is secure. Most of us are not truly at risk from hackers looking to break into our network, and most hacks – carried out with the likes of Aircrack-ng and other readily available tools – are simply attempts to hijack the WiFi signal and get free internet access.
It is always best practice to assume the worst, though, and consider the fact that one day an attack on your WiFi network may lead to unfavourable consequences. These can range from illegally downloaded music through to the access of sinister material that could land you with a fine or investigation by the authorities.
There are a number of steps you can take to beef up your security:
- Clean up your comp
Spyware and malware tends to slip in with other downloaded programs, so keep a close eye on just what it is you’re downloading. When downloading, make sure you don’t agree to a ‘helpful’ additional program as these can be a nightmare to remove if found to be malicious.
Check your recent downloads regularly, including your program file folder, and sort the folder by date order. This will help you locate any files you don’t recognise and eliminate threats.
- Keep your system up-to-date
Ensure that you’re running the latest operating system, browsers and security software. Run regular updates and maintenance checks. Your network is only as secure as the software you manage it with.
- Change the name of your router
The default ID (the service set identifier (SSID)) of your router is supplied by the manufacturer and is a code that is easily cracked. Change your router to a name that is unique to you.
- Hide your router’s SSID
This has limited use because anybody who is really determined to crack neighbouring WiFi networks will almost certainly be using a sniffer program. You can, though, put in a layer of protection by preventing your router from broadcasting its name publicly. Log on to the router via a web browser, navigate to the wireless settings and uncheck the SSID broadcast option.
- Change the password on your router
While you’re there, change the password. A staple of any security-boosting manual, it’s an essential step as many of the simpler cracks no longer work when the password is changed.
- Opt for WPA2
If you are running WEP, you could be at high risk. Select WPA2 whenever possible as this is the most secure form of encryption currently available to the casual user. The biggest improvement from WPA to WPA2 is the use of Advanced Encryption Standard, which the US government uses to encrypt documents it considers top secret.
- Utilise guest passwords and separate logins
If you find yourself handing out your password to everyone, then simply stop doing it. If your router allows it then set up a guest network, which allows for limited access, and you can feel safer handing out that password than sharing access to your main system.
Your family can all have their own logins with just one account having administrative access.
- Restrict access to certain computers
With data encryption in force, your network will only allow other computers with the correct key to join. A media access control (MAC) address filter creates a list of specific computers that the network will extend access rights to. Create a whitelist on your MAC address filter and block others.
- Use a firewall
Firewalls are invaluable defence mechanisms and will help prevent your computer from sending out personal information without your express permission. Anti-virus software scans incoming communications and files, which is a great start, but the firewall prevents outbound communication. Virtually every computer comes with a firewall but it’s essential to ensure that it is activated and working properly.
Once your domestic network security is at a maximum, take a look at your business website, and make sure your web host provides you with a secure service. Here at UK2, security and reliability of service is the name of the game. Check out some of our web hosting options here.