Nearly 80% of all Americans utilize a home network to connect multiple devices to the internet with a combination of modems and routers. While generally safer than public Wi-Fi and other external networks, there is still risk of criminals attempting to hack these networks to steal sensitive personal information.
The National Cyber Security Alliance – a coalition of government organizations, businesses, and non-profit organizations that sponsor National Cybersecurity Awareness Month – has outlined several easy steps to better secure your home internet networks and protect the data contained on PCs, laptops, and mobile devices that utilize them:
- Change the name of your router: The default ID – called a “service set identifier” (SSID) or “extended service set identifier” (ESSID ) – is assigned by the manufacturer. Change your router to a name that is unique to you and won’t be easily guessed by others.
- Change the preset password on your router: Leaving a default password unchanged makes it much easier for hackers to access your network. You should change it as soon as possible. A strong password is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember (for example, “ILoveCountryMusic.”).
- Review security options: When choosing your router’s level of security, opt for WPA2, if available, or WPA – these levels are more secure than the WEP option.
- Create a guest password: Some routers allow guests to use networks via separate passwords. If you have many visitors to your home, it’s a good idea to set up a guest network.
- Use a firewall: Firewalls help keep hackers from using your device to send out your personal information without your permission. While antivirus software scans incoming email and files, a firewall is like a guard, watching for attempts to access your system and blocking communications with sources you don’t permit. Your operating system and/or security software likely comes with a pre-installed firewall, but make sure you turn on these features.
You can enhance your protection by continuing to follow important basics to reduce the risk of identity theft.
- Ensure websites where you shop, bank, or send sensitive information are enabled with the appropriate levels of security – generally depicted with https:// (“s” for secure) before the URL
- Activate passwords on PCs, laptops, and mobile devices and change them regularly
- For sites where it’s available, enable two-factor authentication for sensitive online accounts
- Keep anti-virus and anti-malware software on all devices up-to-date by enabling automatic updates
- If you have identity protection with identity monitoring, remember to update your personal data to be monitored on the internet’s black market where identity thieves often buy and sell stolen information.
While National Cybersecurity Awareness Month comes around once a year, your privacy and data security are year-round priorities for us. Purchase Iris identity protection today to provide yourself with an extra layer of protection for your most valuable asset – your identity.