What Does Home Network Security Mean?
Home network security is the protection of wireless access points, wired access points and digital devices that connect to the internet in a residence.
Home networks allow multiple computing devices to share files, printers and the same Internet connection. Such devices include traditional home computing components such as routers, computers, smartphones and printers -- as well as smart devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) such as Wi-Fi-enabled baby monitors, doorbell cameras, smart TVs and digital assistants.
Home networking security best practices are similar to best practices for any standard local area network (LAN) or wireless LAN (WLAN) network.
Techopedia Explains Home Network Security
Home network internet connections can either be wireless or wired. Either way, it's important to take some basic steps to secure the network and protect digital devices connected to the internet from being hacked and home user's personally identifiable information (PII) from being compromised or stolen.
Network Security Controls
Network security controls protect the accessibility and confidentiality of computing device data and networks in the home. Security controls, which are countermeasures used to reduce the risk that an exploit will be success, are usually layered to support a defense-in-depth security strategy.
Combining controls to create multiple layers of security ensures that if one layer fails to counteract a threat, the other layers will still help to prevent a breach. There are three important types of network security controls:
Technical Security Controls
Technical network security controls consist of hardware and software components. Examples of technical controls include firewalls, anti-virus software, encryption and access control mechanisms.
Physical Security Controls
Physical network security controls are designed to prevent unauthorized physical access to networked components. Examples of physical security controls include touch ID, facial recognition and surveillance cameras.
Administrative Security Controls
Administrative security controls focus on user behavior. Examples of administrative controls include using strong passwords, disabling remote desktop and maintaining security awareness --especially for email.
How to Enhance Your Home Network Security
Apart from the three controls discussed above, home users can upgrade their network security and use the internet safely by doing the following:
Secure the Router
A secure router is an essential key to improving home network security. Router security includes these four best practices:
- Enable the router’s built-in firewall. This can be done by logging into the router's settings and searching through the menus for phrases such as firewall, filter or packet inspection.
- Change the router's default name. Hackers can gain access to a home network when the router's service set identifier (SSID) is easy to guess. Be sure to change the router's default name and avoid choosing a new name that includes easy-to-guess personal information such as a birth date, phone number or address.
- Change the router's default security key, also known as the Also known as the WPA or Preset Passphrase. Default WPA keys are usually printed somewhere on the side of the router, often on a sticker. To be effective, new security keys should have 8 characters minimum and include special characters.
- Create a different password for guests. Set up a separate network that has a different password if you have guests frequenting your home. A guest network provides visitors with an access point to the internet that is not connected to the network the home's primary devices connect to. Most routers allow home network administrators to add additional networks by logging into the router's administrator settings.
Install Antivirus Software
Ensure that all the devices connected to the home Wi-Fi network have antivirus software installed. This additional security layer will help protect network resources from security exploits that rely on malware to provide unauthorized access.
Antivirus software applications scan networked devices for known threats, monitor network access and egress and notify the network administrator when there is suspicious behavior. The goal of antivirus software is to detect, isolate and remove malware as quickly as possible.
Consider looking for antivirus applications that have automated updates and are able to defend against fileless malware and other malicious exploits that piggy-back off legitimate computer programs.
Connect to a VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an easy way for home network users to protect their data transfers with encryption and hide their identity and location by swapping the home network's IP address with that of the VPN server.
Consider adding an IPS
An Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) reports, blocks, and drops any malicious activity on a network. An IPS can be installed as a stand-alone application or can be part of a next-generation firewall.
Practice access control
Consider limiting what resources individual home network users can access by customizing router settings to create parental controls. Windows and iOS have some built-in parental controls that can limit what time a specific user account is allowed to log into a computing device, what programs it can use and what websites the device can connect to.
Back up critial data
Although the above mentioned ways can reduce the chances of a network breach, they cannot guarantee 100% safety. Be sure to back up critical data with external storage media or cloud backup services that use end-to-end encryption.