A “home computer network” used to mean one PC that everyone in the family shared connected directly to an ISP modem.
But today’s home networks are much more sophisticated. They’ll typically include a router, multiple family computers/laptops, several smartphones and tablets, and any number of IoT devices, like voice speakers andhome security cameras.
Each U.S. household has an average of 11 different internet connected devices.
As home networks have become larger and more interconnected, their security threats have become greater. Additionally, the coronavirus pandemic put a big target on home networks because employees around the country were sent home to work, making those less secure networks a prize for hackers.
What can happen if your home network is breached? Here are a few very real scenarios that people have experienced:
- Home security camera being used to harass family members
- Bank account, credit card details, and other data being stolen
- Personal details being sold on the Dark Web (identify theft)
- Loss of data due to a virus or ransomware infection
- Remote worker causing a breach of their company network
- Computers being taken over and used for phishing or cyberattacks
By knowing the biggest threats to your home network, you can put systems in place to protect yourself, your family, and your information.
Defending Your Home Network Against Threats
There are several types of cybercriminals out there. Some are trying to steal details that can be transformed into monetary gain. Others are just interested in wreaking havoc. And yet others will be looking to hijack a computer’s resources for their own personal use.
The typical home network has multiple vulnerabilities that allow hackers to get in. Here are some of the biggest, along with a way to fortify your defenses.
Hacking into IoT Devices
Internet of Things (IoT) devices are being added to homes in increasing numbers and they’re also a prime point of entry for hackers looking to breach other devices on the same network.
Most IoT devices are attacked within 5 minutes of being set up. They’re such a rich target because they come with default usernames/passwords that many users don’t update right away (or at all). Hackers have a list of these default logins which makes it quick work for them to hack the device.
Here are some tips for securing your smart devices when they’re being set up:
- Change the username/password
- Use a strong password or passphrase
- Change the device name on the network to something that doesn’t identify its make, model, or what it is
- Turn off universal plug and play (UPnP) to eliminate a common hacker entry point
- Apply any new device firmware updates and keep it updated regularly
Unsecure Home Routers
In IoT attacks, home routers account for 75% of infected devices. Cybercriminals will often use a “man-in-the-middle” attack when accessing a router. This means they put themselves in between you and your internet connection and can see the data transmitted back and forth.
Unsecure home routers put any device connected to your Wi-Fi in danger of a breach.
Ways that you can combat this problem are to:
- Apply the same IoT safeguards as you do on other devices
- Use a guest network to separate unsecure from more secure devices (i.e. a child’s smartphone from a work laptop)
- Use a VPN to encrypt your connection and stop man-in-the-middle attacks
One out of every five people in the U.S. have been the victim of a ransomware attack. This is one of the worst forms of malware and it involves having all your files encrypted and being hit with large ransom demand to make files usable again.
Phishing emails, especially those connected to COVID-19, have increased dramatically this year, greatly increasing the chance that you or a family member will be fooled into downloading a virus to visiting a malware-laden website.
Being aware of how to spot phishing emails and always being suspicious of any email in your inbox until proven safe are two ways to avoid falling for a phishing scam.
Other protections include using a DNS filter to block malicious websites and instituting security safeguards that stop unknown programs from running on your system.
Mobile devices often don’t get the same security scrutiny as computers do, and hackers have noticed.
Malicious apps have been on the rise, with those that hide themselves after being installed increasing 30% in 2019.
Some Android phones come with trojan apps already installed, getting past manufacturers. Other apps pretend to be something helpful but are actually malware designed to steal information on your mobile device.
Infected mobile devices can easily act as a bridge to other devices connected on the same network.
Using a strong antivirus/anti-malware app on your mobile device is important. You should also avoid downloading any apps that aren’t available in either the Apple App Store or Google Play store.
Ensure Your Network is Properly Safeguarded!
How secure is your home network? If you’re unsure, Cris’s Tech Repair can help! We’ll take a look at your overall network and device security and make recommendations to keep you and your family secure online.
Contact us today for a home network consultation at 561-985-4961 or through our website.