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Everyone wants to feel secure in their own home. We lock our doors at night and when we’re not home. Some people even have home security systems installed. Just as we take measures to ensure our physical safety, we should also take measures to ensure our safety on the internet. Your Wi-Fi network should be at least as secure as your home. Many internet service providers include an internet security feature as part of their internet package. This is a good start, but there are many simple and free ways to keep your Wi-Fi network secure. Stop broadcasting your Wi-Fi network Wi-Fi networks are broadcasted to allow devices to find and access the internet. A Wi-Fi password helps keep unauthorized users from using your internet, but you can go further by concealing your internet. Austin Norby, software engineer at Blue Star Software, says, “You can turn off your SSID broadcast messages so when anyone looks for a network to connect to on their computer, they won't see yours. In order to connect to the "hidden" network, you must specify the SSID and then authenticate with the password.” An additional step is to use a MAC address filter. A MAC address is a Media Access Control address. MAC addresses limit the devices that can access your Wi-Fi. Norby says, “Even if you know the SSID (hidden or not) and you know the password, if you're device is not on the whitelist then it won't be authenticated to the network.” Keeping your Wi-Fi off the radar and limiting who can access it are great ways to protect your privacy, but they have their limitations. Norby says, “These measures will keep most unsophisticated people out, but it is possible to spoof or manipulate MAC addresses and avoid this hindrance.” Monitor Wi-Fi use One way to see if anyone has gotten past your broadcasting precautions is to check the router to see who has been using your Wi-Fi.Jason Glassberg, Co-founder of Casaba Security, says, “You should do regular checks to see if anyone else has been connecting to your Wi-Fi router. You can do this by logging into the router's administrative console, which will give you a list of connected devices and usage statistics.”With some internet companies, you don’t even have to log into the router.Todd Morris, CEO of BrickHouse Security, says, “Use the mobile app that comes with most modern browsers to see what is connected to your network and look for any unusual activity.” These checks will let you know the IP addresses of who has been using your internet. If you see unfamiliar IP addresses, you should check them out.Jason Polancich, Co-founder of Musubu, says, “Check to see if the IP addresses hitting your Wi-Fi are malicious using a service like Musubu that lets you query IP addresses for free and see if they are associated with cyber threats. For the ones that come back with associated high scores of cyber risk, you can then put them into your router’s blocklist for IPs to keep them from even connecting or pinging your IP in the first place.” Update device software It is important to keep your router’s firmware up-to-date because it is the front gate to your Wi-Fi. The next step is to keep all of the devices that access your Wi-Fi up-to-date.Mitchell Klein, the executive director of Z-Wave Alliance, says “Always install the latest software updates to ensure you have the best defense against malware and other online threats.”Keeping your devices current will keep you from falling prey to old, easy hacks and security breaches. You can also go further.Morris says, “Make sure the devices on your network are also secure with updated security patches and antivirus scanning software.”These device-specific features will further enhance the security of your internet connection. However, consumers should be aware that not all devices that connect to Wi-Fi are created equally.Glassberg says, “If your family uses an IP security camera, a baby monitor, or a kid's 'smart' toy, you need to understand that these Wi-Fi-connected devices are often highly insecure and easily hacked, especially if they are inexpensive. Even if you've taken the appropriate steps to protect your router, these connected devices can still be hacked and the hacker could eavesdrop on you and your family.”It may be best to avoid these products altogether because of the risks they pose for internet security. However, if you choose to use these devices, there are a few things you can do.“At a minimum, be sure to change the default passwords on these devices, but even that may not protect you if the device has other security failures. Do your homework before you buy these products,” says Glassberg.Learn more about Internet Security Essentials.
We use the internet for almost everything. Internet companies are continually improving their internet speed, which makes streaming TV and movies even better. The internet also makes paying bills and keeping current with friends’ and family’s life events convenient. However, the internet can pose risks, like hackers and data breaches.Taking basic steps to secure your home internet can help protect your privacy. Select up-to-date hardware Hardware for internet use includes modems, routers, and ethernet cables. Wi-Fi is one of the most common ways to access the internet. Wi-Fi networks are created through a router. The router is where your home Wi-Fi network’s security starts.Jason Glassberg, Co-Founder of Casaba Security, says, “Make sure your router is a good brand, and check the model to make sure it is still supported by the manufacturer. For example, D-Link no longer supports several routers it considers 'end of life,' and which now have serious security vulnerabilities. D-Link has even been sued by the FTC for shoddy security practices.”Choosing a trusted brand can save you the headache of dealing with a security breach.Todd Morris, CEO of BrickHouse Security, says “Use a modern router that gets firmware updates and security patches from the manufacturer. If it's more than three years old look into a new Wi-Fi router.”These updates will ensure the consistent security of your internet. However, these updates are not usually automatic.Holly Zink, a tech and online security expert for Safeguarde, says, “Often, but not always, router firmware updates need to be installed from the manufacturer’s website. These updates are essential to make sure your router is working properly and has no security flaws.” “Check to see if the router needs to update its software or firmware, and be sure to check this regularly,” Glassberg adds. Don’t use the default settings When it comes to the default settings, laziness can lead to high security risks.Doug Brennan, Digital Marketing Associate and manager of the Digital Addicts blog, says “One of the most important things you can do when securing your home’s Wi-Fi connection is changing the default login information on your router. This is something that not many of us do, but it leaves our Wi-Fi networks wide open to a variety of malicious attacks.”The default information includes the Wi-Fi network name, IP address, and passwords. Unfortunately, this information is very easy to figure out.Victor Congionti, who works at Proven Data, says “The default router name and password are often manufacturer generated and can be easily guessed by a digital thief.” Fortunately, it’s fairly simple to change the default information. Brennan says, “Simply open your favorite browser, enter your IP address into the address bar, and log in using your router’s default username/password (typically located on the bottom of your router). From here, navigate to your router’s settings and change both the username and password. Just remember to write down your new login information, in case you need to change any other settings in the future.” Choosing names and passwords When it comes to choosing a new password and Wi-Fi network name, there are a few important things to consider. Glassberg recommends that passwords meet the following criteria: 10+ characters Upper and lower case letters Numbers Special symbols Phillip Livingston, owner at SEO it, says “Don’t use common passwords, like birthdays, names, or even pets’ names. Use a password generator to make an arbitrary but secure password.”Creating a complex password will help ensure your internet security. Changing it on a regular basis also provides an added measure of security. Be sure that you don’t reuse passwords.When choosing a Wi-Fi network ID or Wi-Fi name, Glassberg says “Since the ID can be seen by anyone within range, or anyone scanning for local networks, it is a good idea to make this ID as generic and unassuming as possible so a nefarious person will have a harder time singling you out.” Encryption Encrypting your home internet means that all the data coming and going via your internet connection is coded to be unreadable. The only way for it to become readable is if someone breaks the code. Austin Norby, software engineer at Blue Star Software, says “There are different levels of encryption for a home network. The first level of encryption is no encryption. The next level of encryption is using a protocol called Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). The only benefit of WEP is that your network traffic is not sent in the clear, otherwise, it's just as bad as no encryption.” If your home internet isn’t encrypted, than anyone can see the data coming in and out. You’ll want to make sure you have a sufficient level of encryption for your internet. Congionti recommends using the highest level of encryption. “Ensure that the wireless security settings are updated to the most current standards, which are a WPA2,” he says. WPA2 stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access 2. Norby agrees, “The best and standard level of encryption to use for your home Wi-Fi is WPA/WPA2 with a Pre-Shared Key (PSK). WPA is the first version of this protocol and WPA2 is the second version of this protocol and should be used in all cases where available.”
How We Evaluate Internet Service Providers All internet service providers are ranked and reviewed against a series of carefully chosen ranking criteria: we look at a company's nationwide availability, price, download/upload speeds, and more. For example, companies that are available in fewer states, set strict data limits or contracts on their plans, or demonstrate poor upload and download speeds tend to receive lower scores on BestCompany.com. Meanwhile, companies that consistently excel across these and other criteria points (including customer support quality and plan flexibility) tend to fair better. For a more in-depth breakdown of how we evaluate internet service providers, click here. Each internet service provider listed on our site has undergone an extensive review process, and after conducting exhaustive research-which included garnering feedback from actual ISP customers-we have identified five internet service providers as industry standouts: #1 Google Fiber Topping our list is Google Fiber, an internet and TV service launched in select cities by Google in 2010. Google Fiber claims to offer internet speeds up to 100 times faster than standard speeds, and is one of the first providers to streamline this gigabit internet service. Google Fiber works with city officials to use a city's existing infrastructure to install up to thousands of miles of fiber optic cable. The company offers free standard internet to all businesses and residents in one of its "Fiberhoods," with the option to upgrade to faster speeds and television service. What We Like about Google Fiber One of the most attractive features of Google Fiber is the its standard internet package-which is absolutely free. Not only is Google Fiber one of the few providers that offers free internet services, but the service also happens to be top quality. We feel this offering generates a lot of goodwill toward the company, as few competitors are able to provide a quality product for free. Google Fiber's gigabit internet package (100 times faster than standard speeds) is priced competitively for businesses and residents alike. #2 Grande Communications Grande Communications has been providing high-speeds internet, TV, and phone services across nine service areas throughout the state of Texas. The company serves over 160,000 customers with 24/7 customer support, and a state-of-the-art, high-capacity fiber optic cable network that makes it one of the fastest and most reliable companies in the business. What We Like about Grande Communications There is a lot to like about Grande Communications. Unlike many players in the industry, Grande Communications does not require customers to signup for long-term contracts, or does it set any data limits on its plans. We also like the wide range of affordable plans the company offers, each with impressive download speeds. Customers who subscribe to television streaming services will like Grande Communications' streaming capabilities. New customers will also receive a $100 reward card when they sign up for any of Grande Communications' Power or Get-It-All packages. #3 CenturyLink Internet As one of the oldest and most established companies in the ISP industry, CenturyLink has become one of the largest and widest-reaching ISPs in the nation. The company has received several awards and accolades over the years, most recently the 2016 Excellence in Data Centre Service Award from BroadGroup. CenturyLink has maintained excellent customer service and support, and provides its customers with a 30-day money-back guarantee. What We Like about CenturyLink Internet We like that CenturyLink, despite its immense size, is still able to cater its packages to the specific needs of each customers. CenturyLink users are given an a-la-cart style of service, which prevents them from having to pay for services or features that they don't even use. CenturyLink is available nearly everywhere, and charges competitive monthly rates. The company also uses its vast resources well, and has received awards for making its data centers more energy efficient. #4 Comcast Xfinity Internet Comcast Xfinity is one of the most widely used internet service providers in the nation. With services back by a money-back guarantee, Xfinity provides premier internet services, with additional antivirus security (free of charge) powered by Norton. Xfinity also advertises "proactive device replacement," which means customers' modems and routers will always be functioning and up-to-date. What We Like about Comcast Xfinity Internet One of the features we like best about Comcast Xfinity is that it doesn't set fixed data limits on its internet plans. Customers will not need to worry about paying overages for excessive amounts of data, meaning they can stream movies, music, and television show, without fear of paying any extra. We also like Comcast Xfinity's exception download speeds, which range from 6 megabytes to 2 gigabytes-nearly double the speeds of other standard internet services. #5 Suddenlink Suddenlink is a full-service telecommunications company owned by parent company Altice USA. With service areas spread out across 17 states, Suddenlink allows customers to bundle multiple services, and customize their packages to suit their specific needs and preferences. What We Like about Suddenlink We like that Suddenlink provides free antivirus software (from Panda Antivirus) with its internet packages. Customers can receive real-time antivirus and anti-spyware assistance, behavior analysis protection, and web filtering to help keep them and their families safe from malicious websites and viruses. For a full list of reviewed Internet Service Providers, click here. The Future of the ISP Industry The ISP industry is much more complicated than upload/download speeds. In October 2016, the FCC ruled that internet service providers must request opt-in permission from their customers before collecting meaningful demographical data from them. This is in accordance with privacy measures put in place to protect consumers unethical advertising and marketing practices. Consequently, sites like Google and Facebook, which also collect and sell consumer data to advertisers, may be the new destination for marketers to place their ads-a potential drain to ISPs wallets. Some experts believe that ISPs have a right to sue the FCC, but in the meantime, are required to clearly display the option for customers to allow the provider to use their information. ISPs are also not allowed to refuse service to customers who do not opt-in. Over the next 12 months, consumers will need to pay close attention to the data and information their ISP is requesting from them, and whether their given the option to opt-in to data gathering. As the ISP industry continues to change and evolve, BestCompany.com will maintain strict standards of excellence. We will make sure customers stay apprised to new legislation regarding internet usage and consumer data collection, and reward those companies that remain compliant with these laws.
Google Fiber is a disrupter in the Internet Service Provider (ISP) industry to say the least. Just ask Comcast! The threat that Google poses to all current major ISPs is already being felt. You can see why Comcast/Xfinity moved quickly to purchase Time Warner. They clearly see Google as a threat to their business in the very near future. The very idea of providing fiber optic internet at 1,000 Mbps to millions of homes at very low prices is an economic game changer. Not only would it force other ISPs to increase speeds and lower prices, it would create productivity increases in business unlike anything we've seen. At least since the public release of the Internet itself. Currently the only cities that have Google Fiber are Kansas City, MO, Austin, TX and Provo, UT. According to Google these 34 cities and 9 metro areas are next in line: Portland, OR: Beaverton, Hillsboro, Gresham, Lake Oswego, Tigard San Jose, CA: Santa Clara, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto Salt Lake City, UT Phoenix, AZ: Scottsdale, Tempe San Antonio, TX Nashville, TN Atlanta, GA: Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, College Park, Decatur, East Point, Hapeville, Sandy Springs, Smyrna Charlotte, NC Raleigh-Durham, NC: Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Garner, Morrisville, Raleigh On the Google Fiber City Checklist pdf it lays out a bunch of information about why Google has targeted these specific cities and what things are going to have to happen before Google can actually launch Fiber in those areas. There's still quite a bit of work that needs to be done before these cities get Google Fiber but as we all know, Google moves quickly these days! A Few Additional Predictions Are the cities listed above really the only places Google Fiber will be launching in the near future? According to TechRepublic there may be some other cities that we need to keep our eye on. There are 5 parameters that are used in order to determine the best fit for Google Fiber. These parameters include: Existing Fiber Network: if so, this makes it easier for Google to break ground. Close to a Google Data Center: if so, this gives Google additional value to their search business Population Size Range: Google is looking for cities that are not too big and not too small. A Cooperating Local Government: permits play a huge role in whether or not Fiber can be launched. Not in a Verizon FiOS Coverage Zone: Google doesn't mind competing with Comcast and AT&T. But Verizon is a bit different considering their popularity in the areas they cover with FiOS. Based on these parameters, here are 10 additional cities that COULD potentially land Google Fiber as well: Charleston, SC Miami, FL Houston, TX Seattle, WA Tulsa, OK Cincinnati, OH Chicago, IL Minneapolis, MN San Diego, CA Denver, CO The ones highlighted in bold are the ones we (TBC) predict will be next. What are your predictions?
Depending upon which Internet Service Provider (ISP) you have, the problems you experience over any period of time may vary greatly. In most cases, however, problems involve some combination of slow Internet speeds, intermittent service, or extended periods with no service at all. Your right as the customer is to receive exactly what you paid for. If that's not happening, there are some things you can do to get your Internet service back to where it should be. Call Your ISP Directly and Explain All the Issues You're Experiencing An easy way to rectify any problem with your ISP is to cut straight to the source and call them directly. Don't leave it up to them; they won't seek you out if your connection has been acting up. As soon as you're convinced there's a problem with your service, contact your provider and explain all the issues you've been experiencing. This way, if the fix is simple enough, they can walk you through the process of getting your connection back to 100% over the phone. If instead the fix requires a change to the hardware they've provided you with, contacting your ISP will allow them dispatch a technician to your address as soon as they can. Running through their customer support circle may be a long and tedious process, but more often than not, it can produce the results you're looking for if you stick with it. Find out If Other Customers Have Experienced Similar Issues More than likely you aren't the first customer of whichever ISP you're with to experience the particular set of issues plaguing your connection. As such, it can help to see how other customers have resolved their issues in the past. Search online for the specific problems you've been having (assuming you're still able to get access to the Internet from your home - if not, find a wireless Internet hotspot in your area). There are plenty of technical support forums where you can read about the problems other people have experienced and the solutions they used to fix them. There may even be a specific message board dedicated to your particular ISP where you can communicate directly with other customers and get their advice. Look at the Other ISP Options Available to You In the end, if your ISP problems continue for long enough, it may be time to look at other service providers in your region. Though it might not seem like there are a whole lot of providers to choose from, you should at least be able to find one that can ensure you a stable connection at a decent price. Look for providers that have some sort of reputation in the customer service arena and who can provide you with the best value for your money. You may experience problems with your ISP every once and a while. It's when those problems happen on a continual basis for extended periods of time that you need to take action. Sometimes in the end, if you've exhausted every other option, the best solution is to simply look for an entirely new ISP.