This time of year is filled with planning, and checklists, and endless thought over how to prepare to improve upon your life in the year ahead. With cyber crime on the rise, and small businesses becoming more and more vulnerable, now is the perfect time to focus on security. This year, we suggest making sure you are taking the right steps to keep your network secure in 2016.
10 Tips for Securing your Network
If you are a regular reader of our blog posts you are probably rolling your eyes right now thinking, “here they go again. Gosh, we know to back up our files.” But it never fails, someone will not take this advice, and when his or her systems are hacked or crash there is nothing that can be done. Check your backup procedures. Do. It. Now. Set them up to run automatically if you can, so that you don’t have to remember to do it.
Change the Default Password
Think about your home for a second. You can have all the security systems in the world in place. From alarms, and complicated locks to guard dogs, your home is protected. Now, if a burglar were to have your keys, access code, and the secret to the dogs hearts, would any of it matter? You should think about your passwords in the same light. All the security processes are mute if the hacker has your password. If you are using the default password on your Wi-Fi, you should change that immediately.
Use Complex Passphrase
On the same thought process as our last point, changing your password is only helpful if you make it strong. Your password should be a combination of capitalized letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. We wrote a blog post earlier this year that goes into this in more detail. Check it out for information and tips for creating a secure password.
Install Anti-Virus on EVERYTHING (and keep it updated)
Protecting your network from viruses that are known to cause problems. It doesn’t get much more obvious than this. Yet, McAfee says that one in five computers still aren’t running up-to-date security software. Make sure that you are running anti-virus and that it is regularly updated and patched.
Install and Enable your Firewall
Your firewall is meant to be your first line of defense against harmful intrusions. Firewalls come in many shapes and sizes, and can be hardware or software-based. Most routers come with a firewall built in, but are often shipped with that feature disabled. Make sure that your firewall is enabled.
Turn Off Network Name Broadcasting
Wireless routers may broadcast the name of the network (the “SSID”) to the general public. If you are in a line of business that offers free Wi-Fi to customers, such as a restaurant, hotel, or library you need for the general public to be able to see your network name. For virtually everyone else, this feature is not needed.
Offer a Guest Wi-Fi
Even if you are in the category of not needing to broadcast your network name, you still need to be able to offer guests to your home or business the ability to access the Internet. After all, this is 2015. We have Facebook to check. But giving everyone access to your standard passphrase is bad security. Having a guest network allows you to regularly change the passwords that are on the network that is broadcasted without affecting your own devices. You can also completely disable it when not in use.
Disallow Admin Access From Wireless Networks
You may not be able to keep a determined hacker out, but you don’t have to make his job easier. When you disallow admin access from wireless networks, you can prevent the hacker from creating bigger problems by changing Wi-Fi configurations. Obviously, this means that any changes to your system have to be done from a desktop or laptop on your wired local area network. But that is well worth the hassle.
Use WPA2 Encryption
If you are using 802.11’s WEP (Wired Equivalency Privacy) encryption, you may not be as secure as you think. WEP has known weaknesses and vulnerabilities, making it easy for an experienced hacker to crack in just minutes. WPA2 introduced a new AES-based encryption, which allows for better security over WPA. The good news is that while this sounds like it will be complicated and possibly cost you more money, every Wi-Fi router bearing the Wi-Fi trademark today supports WPA2.
Safely Position your Wireless Devices
Wireless signals normally reach to the exterior of your home or business. This can be very beneficial if you are just outside and need to send an email or check a document. But, if you are not careful, they can extend far beyond that. This would allow for people around you to attempt to gain access to your network. Make sure that you position these devices in a way that allows the signals to cover only the areas that are needed.
These tips should help you get a good start on keeping your network secure in 2016. While this list is not meant to be exhaustive, it should give you a good idea of what kind of things you should keep in mind to make sure that your network is secure.
If you have any questions about your network security, reach out to our security experts! Click here to email our team.