How To Secure Your Home Network – You might be surprised to learn how easy it is for someone to hack into a computer network. The fact is that many computer networks are practically defenseless to intruders.
In the early days of home computer networks, the people who put the networks together were experts and enthusiasts.
They put their systems together knowing how computers can communicate with each other and built in protective measures to prevent other computer users from snooping.
How To Secure Your Home Network
Today, home computer networks are popular among a broad range of consumers. User knowledge spans from expert to newbie. Some users may be unaware of the dangers they can encounter if they don’t properly secure their network.
Others may think home network security is too complicated or confusing. But network security is more important than ever and it’s worth the effort to learn more about it.
An unprotected network could allow malicious hackers — known as crackers — access to your data. It might even allow someone to take control of your computers and use them to commit crimes like a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS).
Even if no one snoops on your information or controls your computer, someone might use your network to access the Internet.
As more ISPs begin to place caps on how much data you can download, it becomes even more important to control your network. You don’t want to get slapped with a huge bill for Internet services you didn’t even use.
With the right tools and knowledge, you can minimize your chances of having your security compromised by malicious hackers or computer viruses. Let’s get started.
Network Security Hardware “How To Secure Your Home Network”
When we talk about home networks, we generally mean a system composed of at least two devices connected to each other. Usually, these devices also connect to the Internet.
Technically, if you have only one device connected to the Internet, it’s part of a larger network. But you wouldn’t have a network of your own.
Computers running on the Windows operating system are more at risk of security invasions than Mac computers. That’s to be expected — the Windows operating system dominates the computer market.
That means the Windows platform is a big target for people who want to exploit computers — they’ve got a much larger target and potential payoff.
Other devices that can comprise a home network include routers, firewalls, cable or DSL modems, printers, video game consoles, smartphones and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) phones.
Depending upon the protocols you use, you may have even more devices linked to your network. For example, Bluetooth gadgets can sync with each other when they come within range of the network.
From a security standpoint, the pieces of hardware that will help provide security are firewalls and routers. Firewalls come in two varieties: hardware and software.
You can purchase a physical firewall device or run a firewall application. Many routers have firewall software built into them. Firewalls act like filters. They help you monitor data traffic between your network and the Internet.
If you detect unusual traffic, that’s a potential sign that someone has compromised your home network’s security. Most firewalls have several security settings to choose from.
The most restrictive settings are generally the safest, but they also limit your options. Most firewalls will allow you to create a list of Web addresses that are off limits.
If you use a wireless router, you should make sure you set a password and enable encryption. Unprotected wireless networks are a bad idea.
Most routers have either Wireless Encryption (WEP) or Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) encryption options. Some have both. WPA is more secure than WEP.
Enabling encryption and choosing a strong router administrator password are two steps that will help keep your network secure.
Network Security Software “How To Secure Your Home Network”
On the software side of the security issue are several important applications. As we mentioned earlier, firewalls come in both hardware and software varieties.
If you don’t have a hardware firewall, you can use a firewall application to help protect your network. You can even use both a hardware and software version if you like.
There are several firewall programs available on the market. Some of them are free. Many are part of a larger software package that includes other important applications.
Almost as important as a firewall is anti-virus software. While you may be able to avoid most computer viruses, Trojans and other forms of malware through careful Web surfing habits, the truth is sometimes things slip through.
All it takes is one mistake and you’ll end up with an infected computer. A robust anti-virus program can help keep your computer safe.
Anti-virus software isolates and neutralizes malware. Most anti-virus software searches for viruses by comparing the applications on your computer against a huge database of malware.
If something matches, the software alerts the user and attempts to neutralize the program. For anti-virus software to remain effective, it’s important that you keep it up to date.
Many programs have an auto-update feature that will download new virus definitions on a weekly basis. Other useful applications to look into are anti-spyware or anti-adware programs.
Like anti-virus software, these programs search your computer for applications that can affect your network’s security. Spyware and adware can track your online activities and send information to another computer.
Many of these programs have active scan modes that will help you keep an eye on your computer in real time. Others may require you to set up a scanning schedule or run a scan manually. It’s a good idea to run scans on a regular basis — at least once a week.