5 Key Ways to Protect Your Family’s Home Networks

To protect your home network and your family, you need to have the right tools in place and confidence that family members can use the internet more safely and securely.

Most households now run networks of devices linked to the internet, including computers, gaming systems, TVs, tablets, smartphones, and wearable devices that access wireless networks.

Cyber Safety Starts at Home

With everyone in the family using the internet to engage in social media, adjust the home thermostat or shop for the latest game, it is vital to ensure that the entire household—including children and older adults—learns to use the internet safely and responsibly.

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#CyberAware: Who is the Chief Security Officer in the Family?

34% of Teens Say They Are | 24% of Teens Say Dad Is | 18% of Teens Say Mom Is

According to the National Cyber Security Alliance:

42% of boys say they are the most knowledgeable person at home on cybersecurity and privacy versus 27% of girls.

25% of girls say their mom is the most knowledgeable person in the household compared to 11% of boys.

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5 Tips to Secure Your Online Networks

Keep Security Software Current: Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system is the best defense against viruses, malware, and other online threats.

Protect All Devices that Connect to the Internet: Along with computers, smartphones, gaming systems, and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.

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Plug & Scan: USBs and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.

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Protect Your $$: When banking and shopping, check to ensure the sites are security enabled. Look for web addresses with “https://,” which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. “Http://” is not secure.

Back It Up: Protect your valuable work, music, photos, and other digital information by making electronic copies of your important files and storing them safely.

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Secure Your Wireless Router

A wireless network means connecting an internet access point—such as a cable or DSL modem—to a wireless router.

Going wireless is a convenient way to allow multiple devices to connect to the internet from different areas of your home.

However, unless you secure your router, you’re vulnerable to people accessing the information on your computer, using your internet service for free, and potentially using your network to commit cybercrimes.

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5 Tips to Secure Your Wireless Router

1. Change the name of your router: The default ID – called a service set identifier” (SSID) or “extended service set identifier” (ESSID ) – is assigned by the manufacturer. Change your router to a name that is unique to you and won’t be easily guessed by others.

2. Change the preset passphrase on your router: Leaving a default passphrase unchanged makes it much easier for hackers to access your network. You should change it as soon as possible. A strong passphrase is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember (for example, “I love country music.”). On many sites, you can even use spaces!

3. Review security options: When choosing your router’s level of security, opt for WPA2, if available, or WPA – these levels are more secure than the WEP option.

4. Create a guest passphrase: Some routers allow for guests to use networks via separate guest passphrases. If you have many visitors to your home, it’s a good idea to set up a guest network.

5. Use a firewall: Firewalls help keep hackers from using your device to send out your personal information without your permission. While antivirus software scans incoming emails and files, a firewall is like a guard, watching for attempts to access your system and blocking communications with sources you don’t permit. Your operating system and/or security software likely comes with a pre-installed firewall, but make sure you turn on these features.

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Help Make Your Home and Business a Safe Digital Haven by Protecting Networks, Devices, and Online Lives with these Tips:

Lock Down Your Log-In Information

Fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics, security keys, or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device.

Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking, and social media.

Keep a Clean Machine

Keep all software on internet-connected devices—including personal computers, smartphones, and tablets—up to date to reduce the risk of infection from ransomware and malware.

Configure your devices to update automatically or to notify you when an update is available.

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Your Online and Social Media Presence

The moment you turn on a new “smart” device or sign up for a new online account, configure your privacy and security settings.

Most devices and accounts default to the least secure settings—so take a moment to configure those privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing.

Disable any features you don’t need. It’s okay to limit how and with whom you share information.

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Your Personal Information

When completing a profile for an account, you don’t have to fill in everything. Limit what information you put online. If it isn’t required, don’t add it. Information about you, such as purchase history or location, has value—just like money. Be thoughtful about who gets that information and how it’s collected by apps and websites.

Sharing Your Personal Photos

Share with care. Think before posting about yourself and others online. Consider what a post reveals, who might see it, and how it could be perceived now and in the future.

When In Doubt, Throw It Out

Cybercriminals often use email links to try to steal your personal information. Even if you know the source, if something looks suspicious, delete it.

Get Involved on Social Media. Use the #CyberAware hashtag in your posts.

For more information, visit the National CyberSecurity Alliance website

More Cyber Security Resources:

Cyber Safety Starts at Home!

Stay Safe Online

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5 Key Ways to Protect Your Family’s Home Networks