HomeTechHacker: 5 Steps to Secure Your Home Network

Sunday, March 6, 2022

By Marlon Buchanan

Sensitive financial information. Private family photos. Important computers, smartphones, and other electronic devices that you and your family count on every day. 

If someone breaches your home network security they can compromise all of these things. You count on your home network now more than ever. Take these steps to protect your home network from hackers and other bad actors.

1. Keep the software on your devices up to date

Hackers come up with new ways to break into home networks every day. Often, they exploit weaknesses in the software on devices. Software updates are intended to quickly address these weaknesses, but if you don’t update the software on your devices you’ll still be vulnerable.

I know everyone hates Windows updates, but they do keep your computer protected. Make sure to keep the software on your computers, mobile devices, and especially your router up-to-date. Your router is your home network’s primary defense and keeping it updated is important.

2. Change your Wi-Fi network name and use a good password

If you’re using the default network name and/or password your router came with you need to change it. Often, the default network name gives away the brand of the router, which can give hackers clues about how to break in.

A strong password for everything is a requirement for security in today's world, and the password to your Wi-Fi network is no exception. 

Wi-Fi networks are susceptible to brute-force password-guessing attacks. Use longer passwords to thwart brute-force attacks. A good Wi-Fi password is a hard-to-guess (but easy for you to remember) phrase or sentence that is at least 15 characters long.

3. Use good Wi-Fi security settings

Wi-Fi security has evolved over time because older standards have been cracked. Make sure you’re not using older standards like WEP security and TKIP encryption. These standards are no longer secure. You should be using WPA3 security and AES encryption. If your router doesn't support WPA3 then WPA2 will suffice.

4. Set up a guest Wi-Fi network

If you don’t have a guest network, you may find yourself in a situation where you have guests over and you have to give them your Wi-Fi password so they can access your network. This gives your guests not only your password, which you may use for different accounts, but also access to all of your networked devices (file shares, PCs, streaming devices, etc.).

Even if you trust the people who have your password, you shouldn't trust that all the software and apps they use are free of malware that can compromise the devices on your network. A proper guest network allows you to set a separate and shareable password for your guests and firewalls off your private computer resources from being compromised by guests.

5. Keep good backups of your important data

Having a backup strategy can save you from a catastrophic loss of data if there's a breach, or even if hard drives or computers fail. There are many backup options including backing up to a separate hard drive and remote backup services like iDrive and SpiderOak One.

If you implement these tips, your home network will be well protected. 

You can find more home security tips and ways to improve your home network in my book The Home Network Manual: The Complete Guide to Setting Up, Upgrading, and Securing Your Home Network, available on Amazon Kindle and in audiobook and paperback formats in stores everywhere.

Marlon Buchanan
has worked in the IT field for over twenty-five years as a software developer, a college instructor, and an IT Director. 

He lives in Lake Forest Park, where he can be found researching new smart home projects, playing sports with his children, and writing articles for his blog, HomeTechHacker.com

He holds a bachelor's degree in computer engineering and master's degrees in software engineering and business administration.


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