Nowadays, it is more and more common to find that our homes are becoming our offices and workplaces.
Since your home has become a hub of your personal and professional lives, ensuring its safety is extremely important.
You make sure that your door is locked every night, so unwanted guests don’t make their way in, but do you do the same for the cyber-security of your home?
Your Home Wi-Fi
If you’re reading this article, you’re using the internet, and you’re likely doing so through your mobile phone service or home’s Wi-Fi network.
Your Wi-Fi network does come with its security measures, but it isn’t impenetrable.
Understanding how it works and how you can improve it makes a huge difference.
Let’s go back to the door example. Sometimes, it’s best to include a second or third lock if you know the original one fitted to the door just won’t cut it.
More often than not, devices by default are connected to and use WPA2 secured networks, which stands for (Wi-Fi Protected Access version 2.)
This security protocol uses what is known as Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) to make sure your data is safe from prying eyes.
Even if you were to break into the network, there is no way to read the encrypted information on the network.
For example, if someone made it through your front door looking for your file cabinet, but everything in there is written in your secret coded language that only you (or your computer) could read and decode.
With that said, WPA2 is still vulnerable from inside the network.
If someone were to have the Password to your network or already had access to it, your network would be compromised.
The Password is “password.”
According to Splashdata, millions upon millions of people are still using simple passwords like “123456” or “password” as their line of defense against unwanted guests.
Some people might be using their first name followed by their date of birth, and while it is easy to remember passwords like these, it spells trouble for the actual security of your network and devices.
Determining personal information like this is one of the first things attempted hackers look for all the time.
It’s the easiest, weakest, and most common form of protection regular people use.
If none of that works, hackers will then resort to brute-force attacks on your network to try and crack your Wi-Fi password.
Typically they’ll get a program running through a list of potential passwords at high speeds – millions of possible combinations – to try and get inside.
Once it correctly guesses the right combination, it will have complete unfettered access to your network and its inner workings.
Using randomly generated numbers or characters like (?, !, @) in your Password can exponentially increase your network’s security, and it would be more challenging for would-be hackers to get access to your network.
Generating them and keeping them recorded in an encrypted drive, notebook, or using a secure password manager are both excellent options to make sure the passwords never get forgotten or go missing.
Also, using the factory-given password for your Wi-Fi network is a terrible idea. While it is convenient and looks “random” enough, these passwords are long-compromised.
You can find many of these passwords with a simple search online, with databases filled to bring with these generic factory passwords.
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
- Two-Factor Authentication relies on security tokens, which are “keys” that open locked doors at their most basic level. Only that specific key opens that particular door.
- The use of Smartphones has become more common in our daily lives while also being good security tokens, being that “key” that generates new tokens for us to access our sensitive “doors.”
Many websites and programs use 2FA to give you an extra layer of security beyond just a password.
If a potential hacker guesses correctly, they also have to have the “key,” your phone, to access the constantly updated security token.
Without that, knowing a password by itself is meaningless. Provided that you keep your phone on you and aren’t prone to losing it, this is an incredibly secure way of keeping hackers out of your sensitive accounts. With that said, losing the device or having it compromised is a quick way to make 2FA meaningless.
To access a website, you need to communicate with the server that is hosting the website. It uses a communication protocol called HTTPS, which requires a trusted third party to sign digital certificates on the server’s side.
Most websites now use this secure protocol, but some still use ‘HTTP,’ not a safe or up-to-date protocol.
It would be best to avoid HTTP websites like the plague and pay attention to that last letter “S” at the end whenever inputting sensitive information into a website.
Using these websites can leave your whole network and all devices on it vulnerable.
Webcam and Microphone Safety
In the new normal, your only real connection to workplace colleagues is your Microphone and webcam. Securing this is of utmost importance, as they too can be accessed without your knowledge or consent.
Simply taping over your Microphone and webcam when you are not using it is probably the most simple and most effective way of securing your privacy.
You can’t tell if there is spyware on your computer or whether someone is watching you on your webcam, so a physical block is the easiest way of preventing security breaches.
It also prevents corporations from tailoring ads to you using images from your webcam. Your data is valuable. Protect it.
Soft-Disabling Your Webcam and Microphone
To prevent unwanted spying, you can disable your webcam in settings. Unfortunately, some hacking programs can re-enable your webcam, so this is not always effective.
Also, if someone has remote access to your computer, they can re-enable it themselves.
It is effective but not completely foolproof, so again, the tape is a good way that no one but you can alter to add on top of disabling these devices when not in use.
The flaw in cybersecurity is often in the human and not the device. Also, here is where social engineering comes in.
Whether it be posing as a legitimate company or someone trying to offer you money, these are often the most successful and widespread scams and efforts to get your sensitive information without you even realizing it.
Here are a few tips:
Do not give out personal information over the phone. Entities such as banks will not ask for your passwords or personal info over the phone unless you explicitly call them.
- Scammers will often pose as legitimate companies with email addresses, websites, and reviews. A whole industry is dedicated to scamming innocent users out of their hard-earned money. If something sounds too good or is confusing, it’s better to leave it and move on.
- Never give anyone remote access to your computer or device. If there is something wrong with your device, seek help from a legitimate service provider.
- Beware of shady emails. The spam filter in your email inbox usually prevents you from clicking any links that may download malware. However, it would be best if you were cautious and did not open any email that seems suspicious.
- Never insert shady USBs into your computer. One of the easiest delivery methods of malware is a physical device. Someone may drop a USB into your pocket or try to sell you one on the street to compromise the security of the devices on your network.
The Fundamental Cybersecurity Is Inside of Us
Truthfully, just having common sense can help avoid many security breaches during your extended stay at home.
It is unlikely that a superstar hacker is actively trying to hack your devices unless you are a government official or someone important, in which case, all of the tips above are mandatory.
Practicing internet safety and using the existing protection tools available to you will set your mind at ease, even if you are not a tech-savvy human being, and make sure you’re protecting yourself as best as you can.