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Cybersecure Home

When it comes to technology, in the past we had to worry about maybe a computer or two and perhaps a few phones but that is no longer the case. Now our TVs, refrigerators, thermostats, door bells, and numerous other devices around our homes connect to the Internet. As the list "things" that comprise the Internet of Things continues to grow so should are diligence in ensuring the devices are properly configured to help us use them in the most secure manner possible.

 

Various IOT devices threatening to not work unless ransom is paid

 

Leave My WiFi Alone!

Many home users share two common misconceptions about the security of their networks:

  1. Their home network is too small for anyone to want to attack it.
  2. Their devices are configured for security by the manufacturer.

The truth is your home network, regardless of the size, is susceptible to attack. Nearly every aspect of a hacked computer or network and a user’s online life has value and there are countless underground services available to monetize each. A general rule of thumb is to assume your devices are configured with most (all?) security features disabled simply because manufacturers want to ensure their devices work with the least amount of headache for the user and, unfortunately, security and ease of use aren’t always compatible.

To help ensure your network is as secure as possible consider:

  • Changing your router’s default administrator password. Lists of default administrator passwords can readily be found on the Internet.
  • Enabling the strongest encryption protocol available, such as WPA2. This will make it so a password is required before anyone can connect to your network.
  • Ensuring you use a strong, unique password for your networks.
  • Turning the network off if you know it’s not going to be used for extended periods of time, when you’re traveling, for example.
  • Creating a guest network. This will allow your friends to connect to the Internet but not any of your other connected devices.

These might seem like daunting tasks but that are actually not too difficult to do. If you don't have the manual that came with your router a quick Google search should be all you need to learn how to do each of the actions outlined above.

Who’s There?

Do you know everything connected to your home network? No? Don’t feel bad if you don’t. With more and more devices becoming internet-capable, it’s easy to quickly add devices to your home network without you even realizing it and this could easily cause you to overlook devices that have no business being on your network.

Having unwanted devices on your network can reduce bandwidth available to other devices and rogue devices could easily allow compromise of your personal information. Even if you don't consider yourself to be a "techie", you can readily discover what devices are connected to your network by logging into your router and reviewing the list of devices under headers named similar to “DHCP Client” or “Connected Devices”.

Under these headers you’ll see a list of devices currently using your network. If you see something you don’t recognize, change your Wi-Fi password, and reconnect only the devices you trust.

Please do not hesitate to ask if you have any information and technology security questions.

Wishing you safe computing,

David C. Creech, CISSP, GSEC, GCED
Assistant Director, Information & Technology Security
Email: dccreech@volusia.k12.fl.us
Phone extension: 79924