Protecting your personal devices, including computers, tablets, and even Wi-Fi networks is possibly more important (and easier) than you think. Take a look at these quick tips to help you properly safeguard your home computing setup.
1. Home Wi-Fi
Create a strong Wi-Fi password
Just as creating strong passwords for your online banking, email and social media accounts is extremely important, so too is the need to create a strong authentication password for your home Wi-Fi network. This is critical in helping to keep unwanted visitors out and helps protect your assets and data.
What happens if hackers get access to your home Wi-Fi network? They can monitor all the traffic and data that goes in and out of your network, making all computers and devices connected to your network vulnerable.
To create a strong password, include upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols, and change your passwords regularly.
The current standard for secure Wi-Fi systems is WPA2-PSK9 (WIFI Protected Access 2) which is more resistant to hacking. This system allows passwords up to 64 characters in length.
Rename your SSID
Wi-Fi systems broadcast an SSID (Service Set Identifier, or more simply a network name), and Wi-Fi modems have an SSID coded out of the box. Change the SSID name so it doesn’t tip off what brand the Wi-Fi unit is. Additionally, make your SSID name vague so that it doesn’t reveal who the Wi-Fi network belongs to. For example, don’t rename your Wi-Fi network to something like “The Smith’s WiFi”.
Enable MAC address filtering
Nearly all wireless routers and access points can restrict which computers and devices can connect to it. When you enable MAC (media access control) address filtering in your Wi-Fi modem or router, only those devices inputted in the Wi-Fi unit will be granted access.
Apply firmware updates
Firmware refers to the program that helps your device work properly. From time to time, updates and security patches are issued by the Wi-Fi router vendor and it’s important to update these when they are issued. Most patches are released to address a security vulnerability recognized by the manufacturer.
2. Antivirus software
Anti-virus is an investment
Purchase and install Anti-virus software. This is a simple yet crucial step to protect your devices and privacy. Anti-virus software are programs that help protect computers and tablets against most viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and other unwanted malware that can affect your system. Malware, or ransomware, can perform malicious acts, encrypting your hard drive, and making your data unavailable unless you pay a ransom. Malware can also delete files and access your personal data.
Set your Anti-virus to update automatically
Anti-virus vendors are constantly updating their software to address newly found malware. Like all software updates, timely anti-virus updates will help you protect not only your personal data but your personal identity as well.
Back up your hard drive
Accidents happen. Whether you accidentally delete an important file, become affected by a virus or maybe your hard drive crashes, having the ability to restore your data from a backup source may be your only insurance. Backing up your hard drive is simple and inexpensive. Windows and Mac OS X have great built-in backup programs, and all you need to add is an external hard drive. Make sure you select a hard drive that has twice the capacity of your machine’s hard drive.
Remember to back up regularly, as the more frequently you back up your data, the less you will be at risk of losing.
3. Security Awareness
Stay up to date and informed
While these tips and technology can increase the security of your home network, it is important to take steps to be security aware and stay current on the latest security updates and online scams – reading the articles and resources shared on telus.com/wise is a good start. Additionally, understanding how you can invite a virus into your system by simply clicking on phishing email (malicious email designed to look legitimate), or visiting an unknown website which has malware, is another step to help you protect your home computing setup.
Exercise common sense
Before opening an email stating that “you won” or “click here to accept your prize”, pause and ask yourself if you entered that contest. Or, if you see an email from what appears to be a legitimate organization (e.g. a bank, utility provider, or Revenue Canada) and they are asking for you to provide them with private information, exercise caution. You can always call the organization directly (using their contact number from a bill or their website, and not the email) to confirm authenticity. Usually, financial institutions and other reputable organizations will not send an email asking you to provide private information by clicking on a link.
Needless to say, being secure online is not any one thing – it’s a combination of using anti-virus on your devices, encrypting your Wi-Fi, making strong passwords, and lastly, always thinking before you click.
For more tips on how to stay safe in our digital world, visit telus.com/wise