These days, almost every household owns multiple smart devices. Your household probably uses multiple smart phones, tablets and laptop or desktop computers. Your TVs are probably smart, and you might also own smart speakers and home assistants, smart security cameras, smart robot vacuums, smart lights and more.
The average American’s personal data may be worth only $0.20 to $0.40 to a marketing firm, but to hackers and cyber criminals, it’s worth thousands — because they can use it to steal your identity and even to access your personal finances, raiding your bank accounts and credit cards like a child’s piggy bank. With the number of devices on the average home network growing, it’s no longer enough to install antivirus software on each of your individual devices. You need a comprehensive online security solution, you need to lock down your home network, and you need to practice good security hygiene.
Use a Comprehensive Security Solution
A comprehensive antivirus protection suite offers comprehensive protection for all of your household’s computers, tablets and mobile devices. In addition to protecting your devices from malware and viruses, a comprehensive security solution offers protection against social engineering scams by filtering out suspicious emails. It can also:
- Help you protect your kids with parental controls to monitor content viewed and time spent online
- Block ransomware from dangerous websites on PC and mobile devices
- Help you create and manage complex, secure passwords
- Protect your privacy from websites that steal personal information
- Secure banking activity and financial transactions online
- Optimize the performance of your computers or devices
The right comprehensive solution will provide protection for all the devices in your household, so you don’t have to worry about installing an antivirus program on each device, and then remembering to schedule scans, update software and so on.
Secure Your Home Wireless Network
Is your home wireless network safe from hackers? It might not be, especially if you have an older wireless router or gateway. Follow these steps to keep your home wireless network safe:
- Update your wireless gateway every three to four years
- Protect your home network with a strong password that is closely guarded and changed every 90 days
- Establish a guest network to keep your guests’ (potentially compromised) devices quarantined
- Change your router’s or gateway’s admin credentials
- Change your network’s name (but choose a new name that doesn’t give out identifying information)
- Hide your home network
- Turn off remote access to your router
- Use a firewall
- Keep your router’s firmware up-to-date
If you have a lot of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, you might want to segregate them on their own network because these devices tend to be especially vulnerable to cyber-probing. There are other things you can do to lock down your home network, especially if you’re tech-savvy. But these simple tips will go a long way towards keeping hackers off of your network.
Practice Good Security Hygiene
Poor security hygiene can ruin your careful security precautions, and implementing better ones can be especially challenging in a household where your spouse, children or elderly parents don’t understand the importance of online security or don’t see the problem with risky behaviors. Every time someone pirates a movie or reuses the same password for multiple online accounts, they could be risking your family’s personal data or finances.
To practice good security hygiene, follow these tips:
- Use a unique, complex, and long password for each login
- Lock your devices, again using a strong password
- Never download movies, software or other media illegally
- Don’t share your accounts with others outside of the household
- Update your devices’ operating system software regularly
- Don’t use any USB stick that you haven’t bought new yourself or at least unwrapped yourself
You might also consider blocking your tablet’s or computer’s webcam and microphone, either with a piece of tape as Mark Zuckerberg famously does or by using your device’s built-in security screen or another homegrown solution. A removable shield is best, at least if you plan to use your webcam again.
Hackers and malware present a real threat to your household’s privacy and security, but you don’t have to live at the mercy of criminals. Take steps to protect your devices and your home network, so you can continue to enjoy the benefits of technology and mitigate the drawbacks.