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How can I secure my home wireless network?

We’ve enjoyed more than a few espionage thrillers where villains and heroes alike have to crack the code to access key information. Unfortunately, reality isn’t all that intriguing when cyber threats occur. And what’s easier to target than a home network? Suddenly “Mission Impossible” is more like “Mission Possible”.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take using off-the-shelf products to help you minimize the vulnerability of your home computing system:

  • Change the factory-default services set identifier (SSID) from the wireless manufacturers default value. Intruders can access your network by using the known and commonly used default settings, which are published on the Internet.
  • Do not share or communicate your SSID setting.
  • Enable encryption: Wireless Protected Access – Pre-Shared Key (WPA-PSK) is the suggested encryption method for the home network.
  • Ensure that your router’s firewall is turned on. For extra protection, consider running personal firewall software on each computer connected to the router.
  • Use a software firewall on all devices connected to your network – computers and tablets. Prevent cyber attacks by enabling the personal firewall that came with your operating system; or, buy and install a separate personal firewall.
  • Do not automatically connect to open Wi-Fi networks; enable only in temporary situations.
  • Limit access to shared files and folders on your computers and tablets; set passwords on file shares and provide access only to authenticated users.
  • More seasoned computer users may want to consider using a bootable operating system when conducting online transactions. You could configure a bootable system on a USB Flash Drive with only the services and applications needed to perform financial transactions with First Entertainment Credit Union. When you need to access the online banking system to initiate electronic fund transfers, you would boot the “read-only” system on a USB Flash Drive attached to your computer. Any malware or spyware that may exist on your hard drive would not impact you in this scenario.
  • Do not leave your computer network on and open during extended periods. When traveling or during extended downtimes, consider turning off your home network to prevent outside hackers from breaking in.

Install Security Updates to Your Operating System and All Applications

  • Keep your computer operating system up-to-date by allowing all updates on your security system to run.
  • Install the latest software patches for your web browser (Edge, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.).

Secure Your Home Computer’s Software

  • Install updated anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your computer.
  • Allow for automatic scanning and updates of all anti-virus and anti-spyware.
  • Run anti-virus software on your computer after using a public Internet site or unsecured wireless connection.