Our world is small because of digital connectivity. We have access to a wealth of information and resources for personal or business use. Many people are working or running a business from their homes, which makes securing their home networks essential to safeguard sensitive information and access to the network.
I will highlight the essential steps to ensure the security of your home’s wired and Wi-Fi networks and protect your devices from potential cyber threats.
Update and Patch Regularly
One of the foundational practices of network security is keeping your devices and all associated software up-to-date. Cybercriminals (sometimes called ‘bad actors’) often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated systems to gain unauthorized access. Enable automatic updates for your Windows operating system and regularly check for updates on other software, especially security software, to ensure a fortified defense against emerging threats. Do the same for your mobile devices.
Strengthen Router Security
Your router is the gateway to your home network, making it a prime target for hackers. Unfortunately, many, if not most, people neglect their routers. The first thing you should do for a new router is change the default username and password. Utilize a strong, unique password (or passphrase) that combines uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Additionally, in the same way, you keep Windows and other devices and software up to date, update your router’s firmware regularly to patch potential vulnerabilities, and enhance its security features and performance.
Implement WPA3 Encryption for Wi-Fi
Securing your Wi-Fi network is essential, and the encryption protocol plays a vital role in preventing unauthorized access. Upgrade your Wi-Fi encryption to WPA3 (up from WPA or WPA2), the latest and most robust encryption standard available. All client devices must have WPA3 capabilities to use WPA3 to secure your wireless network.
Enable Network Encryption with VPNs
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) add an extra layer of security to your home network by encrypting the data transmitted between your Windows devices and the internet. When connected to a VPN, your internet traffic becomes secure and private, making it significantly harder for cybercriminals to intercept sensitive information. Choose a reputable VPN service and enable it on all your Windows devices for comprehensive protection.
Configure Firewall Settings
More advanced users may customize their firewall settings to enhance network security further. A firewall is a hardware or software security system that monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined rules, which protects a computer network from unauthorized access and potential cyber threats.
Windows systems come equipped with a built-in firewall. Other options include SOHO firewall appliances or firewall software (typically part of an internet security software suite). Ensure that whatever firewall system you use is activated and properly configured. Regularly review and update firewall settings to allow only essential applications and services to communicate through the network, reducing the risk of unauthorized access.
Disable Unnecessary Network Services
Many Windows computers come with pre-installed network services that may not be essential for daily operations. Disable unnecessary services to minimize potential attack vectors. Conduct a thorough review of your system’s services and disable any that are not crucial, reducing the surface area for possible vulnerabilities.
Implement Two-Factor Authentication
Enhance the security of your Windows devices by implementing two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible. This additional layer of authentication requires a second form of verification, such as a temporary code sent to your mobile device. Enabling 2FA adds an extra hurdle for unauthorized access, making it significantly more challenging for cybercriminals to compromise your accounts.
Regularly Back Up Your Data
In a security breach or a ransomware attack, having recent backups of your data is crucial. Backups are your first line of defense when disaster strikes your network and resources. Set up automatic backups for your Windows devices to an external hard drive or a secure cloud service. Regularly test your backups to ensure you can quickly recover your data if needed.
Monitor Network Activity
Stay vigilant by monitoring the activity and devices on your home network. Utilize network monitoring tools to identify any unusual patterns or suspicious behavior. Your router may have a feature allowing you to view devices connected to your wired and wireless network. Ensure you can identify all devices on those lists.
Securing your home’s wired and Wi-Fi network for Windows computers is essential to safeguard access to your network and network resources (e.g., files). Following the basic steps in this article can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to cyber threats in your home or small office.