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There are many benefits to the internet — improved information sharing, streaming TV and movies, and social engagement.The internet also poses risks. We share a lot of personal information online. While we can select privacy settings on most social media networks, we should also make sure our internet connection is secure.Below are three recommendations from internet security experts: Add a firewall Perhaps the most well-known firewall is the one in China that restricts Google, Facebook, and Twitter. On a smaller scale, a firewall increases internet security because it controls the kind of traffic allowed on your server. Jason Glassberg, Co-founder of Casaba Security advises, “It's a good idea to consider adding a firewall particularly if you live in an apartment building or do sensitive tasks over Wi-Fi. An inbound and outbound firewall is best.” A firewall can keep unauthorized devices from accessing your internet service, which is a great protection from moochers and hackers. As you configure your firewall, make sure you configure it correctly.Phillip Livingston, who is experienced in the IT industry and currently owns SEO it, says, “One of the leading causes of compromised computer networks is misconfigured firewalls. Close all unnecessary ports on your router.” Routers have several kinds of internet ports. Some of them can be useful when open but can also create unnecessary security risk. “A lot of people enable remote desktop protocol, port 3389, so they can access their computers from the internet. They also leave port 21 open so they can access their files remotely. This leaves their network susceptible to brute force attacks. The best alternative is to disable those ports and use a VPN instead. It’s more secure,” says Livingston. Use a VPN A VPN is a virtual private network. It is another great way to enhance your internet security and protect your personal information.Paul Bischoff, privacy advocate at Comparitech.com, says, “Even if a hacker has infiltrated your wireless router, using a VPN on your phone or laptop will encrypt all your internet traffic before it leaves the device. This will make it impossible for a hacker to decipher anything they happen to intercept.”A VPN can be accessed by most devices that access the internet, like routers, mobile phones, computers, and tablets. VPN companies offer subscriptions to VPNs. The subscription fee varies depending on the company, but generally hovers around $6 per month. Purchasing a VPN service contract from a reputable company is an inexpensive way to protect your personal information. Create a guest Wi-Fi network Setting up your Wi-Fi network into your personal Wi-Fi network and a guest Wi-Fi network can help protect your personal information.Sophie Miles, CEO and Co-founder of elMejorTrato.com.co, says, “A Wi-Fi network for guests is nothing more and nothing less than an SSID isolated from the main one.” SSID stands for service set identifier. It is the name of the Wi-Fi network.“This allows two actions at the same time: People who connect to this network have access to the internet and isolate the equipment from the domestic Wi-Fi network and Local Area Network (LAN) of the users of this SSID, avoiding unauthorized access,” Miles says.In other words, it permits internet while isolating your personal devices from visitor devices accessing your Wi-Fi via guest access.“It’s hard to control what sites your guests visit or what they download, but you can control the Wi-Fi they use. By having two networks, you don’t have to worry about your personal information being compromised,” says Holly Zink, a tech and online security expert for Safeguarde.Setting up a guest Wi-Fi network has other security benefits.“The purpose of creating this network is simply to enable the connection of users without offering the password of our Wi-Fi network, thus avoiding having to change the password periodically,” says Miles.
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.”