It’s 2021, and while there may be a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, this is no time to let down your guard in cyberspace. The early days of the pandemic saw a significant jump in the number of COVID-19-related spam emails and impersonation attacks, and scammers are still trying harder than ever to cash in on peoples’ fear, anxiety, and anger surrounding their circumstances.
Don’t fall victim to a cyber attack. Shore up your network security, know where your security weaknesses might be, and use good password hygiene. Here are the strategies you need to keep your network and devices safe in 2021.
1) Use Good Password Hygiene
The most important thing you can do to protect your identity online is to use good password hygiene. That means using a strong, unique password for each of your online accounts. Use a password manager to generate strong passwords easily and keep track of your login information for your various accounts and apps -- that way you only have to remember one password, but you can still keep all your accounts secure. A password manager helps you avoid “password spray,” a type of attack in which hackers try to access your account using a common password, like “password”, for example. And, if a hacker does manage to get into one of your accounts, they won’t then have access to all of your accounts, because you’ll be using a unique password for each one.
2) Understand the Risks You’re Facing
Do you know how to spot a phishing scam? If you were targeted by a social engineering attack, would you be able to identify it? What are some of the most common malware attacks and phishing scams going around right now? Knowledge is power, and you should take some time regularly to arm yourself. Know the most likely strategies hackers and scammers are using to try to part you from your money. Staying up to date on cyber security news will help you keep security at the forefront of your thoughts, so you’ll be less likely to fall for a scam, even by mistake.
3) Install a Home Network Security Station
You probably think you know who’s connected to your home network right now -- but do you really? Hackers could connect to your network without you even realizing it.
A home network security station is one of the best home network security solutions available on the market today. Hook up a home network security station, and you can monitor which devices are connecting to your network (and disconnect them remotely if need be), set up comprehensive parental controls, filter your email for spam, and more. Unless you and everyone who lives with you are cyber security professionals, you need a home security solution to automate your home network security.
4) Secure Your Router and SSID
If you haven’t yet, you should change your router’s admin login credentials. Just go to your router’s IP address and put in the username and password that should be listed in your user manual or other paperwork that came with the router. If you don’t have the user manual anymore, you can look it up online, or just google the brand name and model number of your router and the words “default password”.
Once you’ve accessed your router’s admin dashboard, go to the wireless security tab and make sure your wifi encryption protocol is set to WPA2 or, if you have it, WPA3. Then change your router admin password and right the new one down somewhere where you won’t lose it.
Next, you’ll want to change your home network ID, or SSID, from the default to something that doesn’t contain any personal information that could help hackers answer your security questions. Change the default password to something strong and unique. For added security, you can hide the network so that only devices that have previously connected to it can find it. New devices won’t be able to find the network unless you give their owners the new, secret network name.
5) Be Careful with IoT Devices
Internet of Things (IoT) devices are extremely vulnerable to being hacked, so you should think twice before filling your home up with connected smart devices. The more things you have connected to your network, the more possible entry points you’re creating for hackers, and connecting an IoT device to your network is pretty much like leaving your back door open all the time.
You can always just choose not to let a device connect to the network. Or you can do the digital equivalent of hiding a key somewhere outside. Create a separate guest network to segregate your vulnerable IoT devices from the same network on which you use your phones, laptops, tablets, and other devices that contain sensitive information. That way, if one or more of your IoT devices does get hacked, the criminals still won’t be able to get at anything good.
With a new year should come renewed vigilance against cyber attacks and hackers. Make home network security a top priority, and you won’t have to waste time worrying about protecting your family from cyber crime.
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