National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is all about highlighting the importance of good cybersecurity hygiene that will help us all stay safer when traversing the Internet. For those of us in the cybersecurity industry, we often focus on flexing our cybersecurity skills in the workplace to make sure we’re not an exposure point for our organizations, which are increasingly being targeted by hackers looking to catch us unaware.
However, an often overlooked but important cybersecurity priority is securing our home networks to prevent workplace data breaches. After all, in today’s workforce, how many of us are logging in from home to check our emails or finish up a last-minute project? Or working from home to maximize the hours in a workday? Any time we are logging into workplace apps or looking at workplace data no matter where we happen to be logging in, we are opening the door for hackers. Because of that, our home networks must be secured just like our workplace networks to truly protect ourselves and the company that employs us from increasingly sophisticated, well-funded hackers.
But how exactly do you do that? Thankfully, the same people responsible for securing your workplace can also help you secure your home network to the benefit of everyone involved. Here are a few tips from SailPoint’s security experts on how to shore up your home network and keep hackers at bay.
Understand Your Home Network
Before you can secure your home network, you must understand what it entails. In 2008, the extent of a home network was likely a modem, router and one or two computers. But in 2018, that network looks very different, incorporating not only computers but also smartphones, tablets, home assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, smart televisions, security cameras and even smart appliances like refrigerators and washing machines. As the internet of things (IoT) continues to expand, it’s imperative that you get a handle on all of the devices in your home connected to your network.
Understand its Limitations
IoT devices are inarguably making our lives easier. Who doesn’t want a perfectly brewed, hot cup of coffee awaiting them when they walk into the kitchen each morning? However, the convenience of IoT devices may also be sacrificing the security of your home network. IoT devices are notoriously insecure, many without password protection or the ability to be patched in the event of cybersecurity issues. They’re also often exposed (and searchable) to the outside world, giving hackers an easy entry point into your network. When you combine these vulnerable devices with outdated home routers (which aren’t very secure to being with, and now often offering remote administration), you have a recipe for disaster when it comes to securing your home network.
Despite these challenges, it is possible to secure today’s home network. How do you do it? Focus on the following five factors, and you’ll be well on your way to a more secure home network:
- D is for DNS: Deploy a DNS solution that helps you avoid connecting to known bad entities while you’re using the internet. You can also find enhanced solutions that offer additional features like phishing protection and content filtering.
- E is for Encryption: Encryption converts your data into a cipher or code to prevent unauthorized access. By using a solution like Stubby to encrypt your DNS queries or tunneling your traffic through a VPN, you can use encryption to add a layer of protection to your home network.
- B is for Barricade: Another way to improve your home network security is by deploying a firewall to protect your devices from unsolicited connection attempts. While this won’t stop the most enterprising of hackers, it can go a long way in blocking many attacks. Other ways to barricade include turning off remote administration for your router and segmenting your devices by their level of vulnerability and importance, so you can place more controls on your laptop than you do on your wi-fi enabled lightbulbs.
- P is for Patch: This one is relatively simple. Buy things that can be patched to protect yourself against future vulnerabilities. This may mean spending a little bit more on the devices you purchase and connect to your home network, but it is well worth the cost for a more secure home network.
- T is for Test: Last but not least, test to make sure you’ve done your job well in securing your home network. You can run scans on a number of websites, or even hire someone with a professional accreditation to help set up and test your home network for vulnerabilities.
This might seem like a lot of work, but it is ultimately worth the investment of time and energy if it protects your home network – and by extension or your workplace network – from hackers seeking easy entry. If you’re in over your head, you can also reach out to your organization’s IT team for some input. After all, it’s their responsibility to secure the workplace, and employees play a huge role in those efforts, both at work and at home. You can also seek out experts to make sure your home network is up to snuff as an added insurance policy against cyberattacks.
Thanks to initiatives like National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, more and more employees know the risks of data breaches and are having conversations about how to prevent them. But while knowing is half the battle, doing is even more important. What are you doing to secure your home network?