Working from Home Tips: Network Security Edition
By: James O’Rell
Large amounts of the work force are now working from home and that doesn’t look to change in the foreseeable future. This puts more emphasis for the need to have home networks secure to protect not only yourself but your employer. Here are some recommendations on securing your home network and devices.
A note before we go into the items that will help keep your home network secure. A network is only as secure as it’s weakest link. This article will cover securing numerous items on your network. This way, your network will be as secure as you can get it.
Upgrade Your OS:
And old OS is a vulnerable OS. Using a modern OS is vital to keeping your network safe. Even an unused but active machine running an old OS can create a jumping off point for an intruder and give them access to sensitive data. The below talks about updating individual types of operating systems.
According to Statcounter.com , nearly 12% of PCs are still running Windows 7. That is a slightly higher percentage than users running Windows 11. As per Microsoft, Windows 7 reached end of life on January 14th of 2020. This means, as of writing, this operation system has not received any security updates for well over two years. If you wish to continue using your PC securely, it will be required to purchase a newer version of the operating system.
Macintosh OS comes with free updates up to a certain OS, depending on your hardware. For Macs made in 2015 and onward, upgrades to the Montgomery OS are available, the latest version of the OS. You can find more information about that here.
Devices that connect to your network have operating systems that require updates. It’s important to make sure each of these devices are kept up to date. Remember even these devices such as televisions, refrigerators, gaming consoles, etc. could be a security risk. Please see the individual device instructions for how to do this. If they are too old to receive updates, but it is still important they remain connected, you can put them on their own network segment which will be covered later.
Increase Wi-fi Encryption:
It’s important to make sure all your wireless devices are on the strongest encryption possible. As of this year, the strongest wireless encryption is WPA3 according to How-To-Geek. You should consult your router’s documentation on how to accomplish this. If your router (or devices) do not support your desired encryption, it may be time to consider an upgrade.
Hide your Wi-Fi
While this does not increase the security of your wireless network, it does make it more difficult to find. Within your router settings this will be an option. This makes it so a user must know the wireless ID to connect to the network. This should not be considered a security measure on its own, but it does enhance security when used alongside other measures. Please see your router documentation on how to accomplish this.
The best way to keep your work devices (and personal devices) safe from possible exploits of IoT (Internet of Things) devices is to segment your network that keeps your devices with sensitive information on them separate from the devices that could be vulnerable (such as televisions, older gaming consoles, home appliances, etc.).
The easiest way to do this is to put the devices you don’t trust on your guest wireless network if your router supports that functionality. This will separate those items from everything else on your network so if one of those devices is compromised, the hacker will only have access to the devices on that network and not your important personal and work devices. Please see your router’s documentation and this in depth article on the subject.
More and more, we are relying on our home network configuration to keep us safe, instead of a paid staff of IT professionals. There is only so much your company’s IT staff can do to keep your work computer’s information safe while it sits connected to your home network. In the past, that may have just been on a random remote day or when you needed to catch up with work while at home. Now, many of us are working strictly from home and we need our home networks and the devices connected to them to be as protected as possible. This makes paying attention to your home network and devices protection a worthwhile use of time and effort.
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