Keeping Your Home Network Secure: Network and Internet Behaviors

Home network security is important because many people bring the same computers and other mobile devices back and forth between work and home. Some companies will control the perimeter of the corporate network with the best available security controls, but they do no good if someone takes their laptop home and uses it on an insecure network. It’s also a concern if company employees load the corporate VPN client on their home computer to remote into the office. This is actually a more dangerous practice because the company has no control over the home computer, yet they are allowing it on the private network.

If you’re wondering how you can keep your home network secure, we have some tips for you.

Network Recommendations

Configure a Secure Home Network. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) likely provides a modem/router as part of your service contract. To maximize administrative control over the routing and wireless features of your home network, use a personally owned routing device that connects to the ISP provided modem/router. If using a personally owned router is not an option, be sure to change the administrator password to something unique to you after the provider installation. Be sure that your personally owned router/firewall device supports basic firewall capabilities and Network Address Translation (NAT). Disable remote administration capabilities.

Implement WPA2 on the Wireless Network. To keep your wireless communication confidential, ensure your personal or ISP-provided wireless access point (WAP) is using Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) instead of the much weaker, and easily broken Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) or the original WPA. When configuring WPA2 change the default key to a complex, hard-to-guess passphrase. Note that older client systems and access points may not support WPA2 and will require a software or hardware upgrade. When identifying a suitable replacement, ensure the device is WPA2-Personal certified.

Implement Strong Passwords on all Network Devices. In addition to a strong and complex password on your WAP, use a strong password on any network device that can be managed via a web interface, including routers and printers.

Internet Behavior Recommendations

Do Not Exchange Home and Work Content. The exchange of information (e.g. e-mails, documents) between less-secure home systems and work systems via e-mail or removable media may put work systems at an increased risk of compromise. If possible, use organization-provided laptops to conduct all work business from home.

Be Cognizant of Device Trust Levels. Home networks consist of various combinations of wired and wireless devices and computers. Establish a level of trust based not only on a device’s security features, but also its usage. For example, children typically are less savvy about security than adults and may be more likely to have malicious software on their devices. Avoid using a less savvy user’s computer for work and other sensitive functions.

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