Vol. 11, No. 10 – Feb 14 – Feb 27, 2018 – Tech Today with Ken May

Securing the home

Several years ago, creating a cybersecure home was simple. Today, technology has become far more complex and is integrated into every part of our lives, from mobile devices and gaming consoles to your home thermostat and your refrigerator. Here are simple steps for creating a cybersecure home.

Almost every home network starts with a Wi-Fi network, controlled by your Internet router or a separate, dedicated wireless access point. They both work the same way: by broadcasting wireless signals. Securing your wireless network is a key part of protecting your home. We recommend the following:

• Change the default administrator password to your Internet router or wireless access point. The admin account is what allows you to configure the settings for your wireless network.

• Ensure that only people you trust can connect to your wireless network. Do this by enabling strong security.

Currently, the best option is to use the security called WPA2. By enabling this, a password is required for people to connect to your home network, and once connected, their online activities are encrypted.

• Ensure the password used to connect to your wireless network is strong and that it is different from the admin password.

• Many wireless networks support what is called a Guest Network. This allows visitors to connect to the Internet, but protects your home network, as they cannot connect to any of the other devices on your home network. If you add a guest network, be sure to enable WPA2 and a unique password for the network.

The next step is knowing what devices are connected to your wireless home network. Almost anything can connect to your home network today! Once you have identified all the devices on your home network, ensure that each one of them is secure by having automatic updating enabled on them. By enabling automatic updates, your devices are always running the most current software, which makes them much harder for anyone to hack into.

The next step is to use a passphrase for all your accounts. This is a type of password that uses a series of words that is easy to remember, such as “Where is my coffee?” or “sunshine-doughnuts-happy-lost”. The longer your passphrase is, the stronger. Use a different passphrase for each device and account. This way, if one password is compromised, all your other accounts and devices are still safe. We recommend you use a password manager, which is a special security program that securely stores all your passwords for you in an encrypted, virtual safe.

Finally, enable two-step verification whenever available. It uses your password, but also adds a second step, such as a code sent to your smartphone or an app on your smartphone that generates the code for you. Two-step verification is probably the most important step you can take to protect yourself online, and it’s much easier than you think.

Sometimes, no matter how careful you are, you may be hacked. If that is the case, often the only way you can recover your personal information is to restore from backup. Make sure you are doing regular backups of any important information and verify that you can restore from them. Most mobile devices support automatic backups to the Cloud.

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