Whether you’re a freelancer who works remote or the one in charge of the household bills, securing your home internet connection is key to protection from malicious online threats. A hacker gaining access to your Twitter account is one thing. A cybercriminal with access to your banking information is a whole new set of problems.
We’re breaking down how you can lock down your home Wi-Fi and protect sensitive information in the process. A secure internet is within your reach!
1. Arm your home network
There are a few precautions you can take right off the bat to help make for a more secure internet connection. Consider your network’s name, whether or not your signal is encrypted and disabling visiting users —this will be your first line of defense.
2. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
The WPA2 protection featured in your router encrypts your data so it’s difficult to intercept and decipher. But, this is only a minimum requirement for a secure internet connection. A VPN goes the extra mile to protect your data between networks by cloaking your IP address and routing your web traffic through an encrypted tunnel.
Patrick Barry, CIO of the cybersecurity firm Rebyc Security, suggests using a VPN to account for security vulnerabilities in today’s consumer-grade wireless devices.
A VPN creates a safe channel for data transport by requiring authentication through passwords and unique ID methods for access. This is invaluable since the internet is a largely unsecured network.
3. Protect and store your files the right way
Before the internet, critical files went into a locked filing cabinet. Virtual storage has opened up space in your home office but can subject those files to online threats. And, cybercriminals are no longer exclusively targeting corporate computer networks.
Identity Theft Resource Center research revealed that in 2015, hackers began focusing on smaller targets, including:
- Cloud storage architecture
- Mobile devices
- Wireless medical devices
While a filing cabinet has perhaps two keys to grant access, your network files have multiple portals and vulnerabilities. Hackers could intercept data in the cloud through stolen or compromised mobile devices and even through wireless medical devices. Identify your most sensitive data, how long you’ll need to store it or if you’ll collaborate with others on it.
Whole-disk encryption is a process in which data is converted into code or stored on a USB drive or other portable device for transfer. The data can be accessed only with a passphrase.
What’s the difference between cloud storage and cloud backup?
They’re both talked about as being in the cloud, yet, they’re quite different. When we think of cloud computing, we imagine something out there, up there, out of sight. (Actually, data stored in the cloud is on the ground, in a data storage facility with lots of computers lined up.)
Cloud backup and cloud storage are different concepts and functions.
- Cloud backup: Cloud backup services create encrypted, secure copies of your pertinent files, apps and virtual machines for you to access in case of emergency. It’s not for file sharing for multiple users.
- Cloud storage: Cloud storage services provide quick access to your files for sharing and collaboration from any device, anywhere. Not all cloud storage services encrypt data during transfer, and upload of files is manual.
4. Keep an eye out for threats in disguise
Just because you’re in the comfort of your own home, doesn’t mean malicious links and other malware threats can’t find their way to your computer. Be cautious of unknown URLs. Even if you’re just curious, don’t click on a link without hovering over it first to see if you recognize the address. Even so, these links are designed to look non-threatening, so when in doubt, don’t click at all.
Going the extra mile(s)
Douglas Harris works remotely for a technology company in Louisville, KY in which protocol for file and network protection is extensive. His regime is described below and is becoming the norm for those looking for the most secure internet connection possible (especially telecommuters and remote freelancers with digital access to company assets).
- Antivirus – Kaspersky for audio/video software
- Firewalls – On the router, broadband modem and AV software
- Laptop – Secured by password, sensitive files password-protected, WPA2-PSK encryption on wireless connections
- Public broadband – Forbidden, encrypted or not. Use a wireless card for email and internet on the road
Originally published 12/12/17. Last updated 09/19/19.