If you’re someone who has or plans to have an internet network at home or for your small business, you’ve probably heard of some big companies experiencing data breaches and cyberattacks over the past few weeks.
When dealing with lots of personal or business data, it’s crucial that you know how to protect your network. Weak network security can lead to numerous time-consuming and costly problems in the long run.
But the whole thing probably sounds a little too complicated, right? Worry no more. At the end of this article, you can install a secured internet connection.
We examined guides from internet security experts, reputable security sites, and industry leaders in network security to come up with these recommendations.
Don’t miss out on crucial tips that can make your internet connection foolproof. Keep reading until the very end so you can find out that one effective extra measure that we discovered can ramp up your security level to top-secret.
7 tips for securing your network
Your network’s security should be a top priority, especially when you’re dealing with personal or business data. Left vulnerable, it can easily get compromised and may cause you financial ruin.
At worst, it may even lead to identity theft (and that’s a whole other can of problems).
Don’t be one of the people who overlook network security only to regret it later. These basic security measures can improve your home or business internet network.
1. Use a strong password for your router
Your router is the gateway to your network. If someone can guess your password, they can access your network and all the devices connected to it. So, it’s important to choose a strong password that hackers can’t easily guess.
Christen Costa, CEO of Gadget Review, notes that this is a simple step you can take, but one that makes a huge difference in your network security.
According to Costa, “Choosing an original, complex password makes it less likely for unauthorized users to be able to join your network.” She also advised users to change their passwords at least every 90 days.
To create a strong password:
- use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols
- make it at least 8 characters long (longer is better)
- avoid using easily guessed words like “password” or your name
2. Change the default SSID or hide it
The Service Set Identifier (SSID) is the name of your wireless network. By default, most routers come with the manufacturer’s name as the SSID.
This makes it easy for anyone to identify your network and try to break into it. As such, it’s a good idea to change the SSID to something that’s not easily guessed.
David Attard, a digital consultant and web designer for CollectiveRay, also advised users to conceal their network’s identity.
According to Attard, “Every wireless router has a setting to prevent the wireless network SSID from being transmitted. If a hacker can’t even see it to believe it exists, they won’t try to break into it.”
3. Keep your router’s firmware up to date
Firmware is the software that runs on your router. Like any software, it can have vulnerabilities that need patching. That’s why it’s important to keep your router’s firmware updated.
A router’s firmware sets the basic security standard for your network as it determines what devices can and can’t connect.
The update will repair any exposed network vulnerabilities. Most routers can be set to update their firmware automatically. But if yours can’t, you can usually find the latest version on the manufacturer’s website.
4. Use encryption
Encryption is a process that scrambles data so that only someone with the decryption key can read it. This makes it much harder for someone to intercept and read your data as it’s being transmitted.
“The majority of new internet routers come with the ability to encrypt your network,” says Matthew Osborn, CEO of Legionary, “Ensure that you activate this setting as soon as you have installed your router.”
WPA2 is the most secure form of wireless encryption. It’s important to use this type of encryption because it will protect your data from being intercepted by others.
5. Disable remote access to your router
Many routers come with a feature called remote access. This allows you to manage your router from anywhere in the world.
While this can be convenient, it also opens up your network to attack. If you don’t need remote access, it’s best to disable it. You can usually do this in the router’s web-based interface.
6. Use an antivirus program
An antivirus program can help to protect your devices from malware. It’s important to keep the software up-to-date and run regular scans.
7. Physically secure your router
Lydia Boychuk, VP of Marketing at More Labs, notes that one of the most basic but often overlooked steps to protect your network is to physically secure your router.
According to Boychuk, this means moving it towards the center of the house (for home networks) or placing it in a locked cabinet (for business networks).
Positioning your router near a door, window, or in a place where it’s exposed makes it that much easier for hackers to access your network.
Extra steps to take to level up network security
Done implementing the steps above? Good. It isn’t time to relax just yet, though. Those may be enough to keep beginner hackers at bay, but more experienced ones can easily get through them.
These tips that we’re now about to share with you should help take your network security to the next level.
Use a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) is a secure tunnel that encrypts your traffic as it passes through public networks like Wi-Fi hotspots. This makes it much harder for someone to snoop on your data or steal sensitive information like your login credentials.
Charlie Garcia, the chief editor at WP Dev Shed, also says that a VPN is a useful security tool for Internet connections and other data sent over your network.
According to Garcia, “When a protected connection is lost, most VPN services offer a built-in provision (a kill switch) that disconnects devices from your network, keeping you safe from data leaks.”
He adds that using a VPN allows your staff (if you own a business) to safely utilize WiFi when they’re away on business trips without jeopardizing your company’s important data.
There are many different VPN providers available, so take some time to research your options and choose one that’s right for you.
Enable firewalls on your devices
A firewall is a security system that controls the flow of traffic in and out of a network. You can use it to block unwanted traffic and limit the spread of malware.
Firewalls can either be hardware-based or software-based. Linda Chavez, Founder and CEO of Life Insurance Finder, recommends that you use both.
“If you have a home router, chances are it already has a firewall built-in. For added protection, you can also install a software firewall on your computer,” Chavez adds.
Keep your software up-to-date
One of the most common ways that hackers gain access to networks is by exploiting vulnerabilities in outdated software. So, it’s important to keep all of the software on your devices updated.
This includes the operating system, web browser, and any applications that you have installed.
Be careful what you click on
Hackers often use phishing attacks to try and trick people into clicking on malicious links. That’s why it’s important to be careful about what emails and links you click on.
If you’re unsure whether a link is legit or not, you can hover over it to see where it’s going to take you. If it’s suspicious, don’t click.
Backup your data
If your data is ever compromised, it’s important to have a backup. This way, you can restore your files and get back to work quickly.
Train your employees or family members
IMPORTANT TIP: If you want to ramp up your security level to top-secret, then training your employees or family members is the most important step you should never forget.
Training them means teaching them about proper password security, phishing attacks, and general internet safety.
You can tell them about the tips we mentioned above so you can make sure that there are no weak links in your network. It’s crucial to ensure that they also understand the different kinds of cyberattacks that hackers often exploit to try to gain access to your data.
“A lot of planning, considering the staff, the company’s characteristics, and the employees’ needs are the prerequisites to making policies that make sure that your internet connection is safe from vulnerabilities,” shares Ronald Williams, Founder of BestPeopleFinder.
When it comes to the workplace, he adds that it’s important to have a strict IT policy that defines the limits of everyone and keeps it updated. “Have a zero-tolerance attitude if you see any breach in it,” he adds.
What are the most common threats networks face?
A safe network is free from unauthorized access and intrusion. It’s also a network that’s resistant to attack and exploitation.
You can secure a network in various ways, as we’ve discussed above, but it’s always good to also understand the most common threats that you might face.
Hackers can use various methods to attack your network, but the most common method is to exploit vulnerabilities in your system. Once they have gained access to your network, they can wreak havoc by deleting files, installing malware, or stealing sensitive data.
Viruses and malware
Another common threat is viruses and other malware. These programs can infect your system and spread themselves to other computers on your network. They can also cause damage to your system by corrupting files or damaging hardware.
Phishing is a type of social engineering attack in which hackers send you emails or other messages that seem legitimate, such as your bank or credit card company.
These messages usually contain links that lead to malicious websites. If you click on these, you may be taken to a site that looks identical to the real website but is actually a fake.
This fake site is designed to trick you into entering your personal information, such as your credit card number or Social Security number. Once the hacker has this information, they can use it to steal your identity or commit fraud.
Now that you know the types of threats that you face, you can take steps to protect yourself.
How to check if your home or business network is secured
Maybe you’re done going through the steps we’ve listed above, but what if your home or business network has already been compromised?
Here are a few steps you can take to check if your network is secured.
1. Use a security scanner or a vulnerability assessment service
The best way to check if your network is secure is to use a security scanner. It will scan your network for vulnerabilities and give you a report of the findings. This report will show you what needs to be fixed to make your network more secure.
You can also use a vulnerability assessment service. It will not only scan your network but will also provide you with a detailed report of the findings.
You can use the report to understand the risks that you face and take steps to mitigate them.
2. Check for unusual activity
If you notice any unusual activity or unexpected traffic on your network, it could be a sign that someone’s trying to hack into it.
This includes things like unexpected traffic spikes, new devices appearing on your network, or strange messages in your router’s log.
Another way to tell if your network is safe is to look for signs of malware on your computers.
If you see pop-up ads, strange browser toolbars, or other unfamiliar programs, your computer might have been infected with malware.
If you notice anything unusual, it’s important to investigate and take steps to secure your network.
3. Check your WiFi password
Now, you can test your network for weaknesses. Start with your WiFi password. This is the password that you use to connect to your wireless network.
If you’re using the default password that came with your router, then your network isn’t secure.
It’s important to choose a strong password that’s not easily guessed. A good password should be at least 8-16 characters long and contain a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.
4. Test your antivirus strength
Your antivirus software is another important part of your security. It’s important to make sure that it is up-to-date and running regular scans. You can use free online tools like Eicar or Spyshelter to test the strength of your antivirus software.
If you find that your antivirus program is not as strong as it could be, then you should consider upgrading to a paid version.
5. Check your firewall for weaknesses
Your firewall is a key part of your network security. It’s important to check it regularly for any weaknesses that could be exploited by hackers.
6. Check your VPN for leaks
If you’re using a VPN, it’s important to check for leaks. A leak is when your real IP address is exposed even though you’re using a VPN.
There are also free online tools like Tenta Browser or IPLocation that you can use to test for VPN leaks. If you find that your VPN is leaking, then you should contact your VPN provider and ask them how to fix the problem.
7. Check your protocol while browsing
When you’re browsing the internet, it’s important to check the protocol that your browser is using. The two most common protocols are HTTP and HTTPS.
HTTP is the standard protocol for web pages. It is not secure and data can be intercepted by others. HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP and it will protect your data from being intercepted by others.
When you’re entering sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card numbers, it’s important to make sure that your browser is using HTTPS. You can usually tell by looking at the address bar. If it says “https://” then your connection is secure.
What are the benefits of a secure network connection
Why aim for a secure network connection? Here are a few benefits you’ll enjoy if you take those extra steps to keep your network safe.
Protect your data
If your network is secure, then your data will be safe from hackers. This includes things like your passwords, financial information, and personal files.
Prevent malware infections
If your network is compromised, it can lead to malware being installed on your devices. A secure network will help to protect your devices from malware infections.
Stop phishing attacks
Phishing attacks are becoming more common and they can be very difficult to spot. If you have a secure connection, then it will be much harder for attackers to intercept your data and steal your information.
Improve employee productivity
If you have employees who use your network, then a secure connection will help to improve their productivity. They will be able to work without having to worry about their data being intercepted or their devices being infected with malware.
A secure network can save you money in the long run. By preventing data breaches and malware infections, you can avoid costly downtime and repair bills.
A secure network connection is important for both home and business users. There are many benefits to having a secure connection, including protecting your data, preventing malware infections, and improving employee productivity.
Of course, there are also several steps you can take to make sure your connection is secure, such as using a strong password, keeping your antivirus software up-to-date, and checking your firewall for vulnerabilities.
Without these, you’re basically leaving yourself open to cyberattacks that can lead to identity theft. This, in turn, leads to a whole bunch of problems like low credit scores, criminal records, and financial ruin.
By understanding network security and taking these steps, you can keep your devices, your data, and your identity safe.