More people now work from home than ever. If you're among them, you need to make sure your home network is secure, and avoid the most common mistakes.
This year has been incredibly disruptive to both our personal and our professional lives. There is no denying that. The Internet has been heaven-sent in helping us adjust to and cope with that disruption.
We have access to the sum total of the world's knowledge from our smartphones. We can buy groceries, order our favorite comfort food, and even deliver pre-wrapped gifts all without leaving the house. With COVID-19 still spreading like wildfire, these innovations offer more than simple convenience — they offer safety.
Many of us now do nearly everything online, from working to socializing to finances. Unfortunately, this convenience is not without its risks. And we are not solely talking about business data here, either.
Your personal data can just as easily be compromised by carelessness, leaving you open to multiple types of fraud. Combine that with the fact that many smartphone apps now play fast and loose with device permissions and user privacy, and you have a perfect storm. Because although proprietary business data certainly has its buyers, personal data is always in demand.
So what can we do about it?
We should start by avoiding the most common mistakes. Low-hanging fruit is often the easiest to pick, after all, and there's no need for an online attacker to break into your system if you've left the door wide open. We're going to go over three of the most commonly-exploited home network security mistakes in the interest of helping you keep your data safe.
Don't Be Complacent. It Can Happen To Anyone
As security professionals, we like to think that we're less vulnerable than our users. It can't happen to us, we reason. We know how all this stuff works, and we know how to secure it.
If you recall, this is the same mindset small businesses fall prey to when looking at the data breaches suffered by larger corporations. A mindset that makes them a perfect target for hackers. As such, this line of thinking, especially during a pandemic, can be disastrous.
Attackers will target anything and everything, from emails to social media accounts to smart lighting. And it only takes one moment of incaution to let them in. As such, you need to remain vigilant.
Check the permissions of every application installed on your phone. Air-gap your IoT devices on a separate network from your work PC. Practice mindfulness when browsing the web.
Treat your home, in other words, with the exact same care that you would treat your workplace.
Password Hygiene Is Critical
How many of you use a password manager?
If you don't, you should. Insecure or reused passwords represent one of the most common security gaffes both at home and in the office. You need to ensure you have complex, strong passwords that you change regularly, and that you are not reusing any of those passwords for multiple accounts.
If it sounds impossible to do unassisted, that's because it functionally is. That's why we mentioned password managers. Because if you're using the same password across your entire digital identity, that means it takes only one leak or breach to compromise every single one of your accounts.
Another area where we see frequent mistakes involves IoT devices, webcams, and routers. These cannot have default login credentials. Change them the instant you set up a new device.
Slacking On Updates
We all hate Windows Update, which is remarkably overbearing on Windows 10. But there's a very good reason for that. As you well know, unpatched systems often contain easily-exploitable security vulnerabilities.
And that includes your home PC.
From the very moment an OS releases a new version, criminals are probing it for vulnerabilities. In addition to fixing system bugs and adding new features, software updates are meant to address this. To allow the developers to stay one step ahead of criminals.
That means that every time you huff in exasperation and reschedule your system update, you're potentially giving people more time to compromise your data. Instead, our best advice is to schedule updates for a time you know you won't be on your PC. That way, you'll reduce your chances of being interrupted, while also keeping your system more secure.
Protect Your Home Network
Protecting your home network isn't as difficult or challenging as it might look, and it's certainly less complicated than securing an entire workplace. That said, these days it's more important than ever to remain vigilant, with rampant ransomware, identity theft, and fraud. Any of these would be stressful enough without COVID-19, but add the pandemic to the mix and they're downright devastating.