Security in your home might be a daily activity for you – keeping the kids, the dog, and the secret stash of chips safe. But what about your digital security (or cybersecurity), including precious details about you and your family? The addition of more work and school happening at home makes cybersecurity an even higher priority.
The reasons why are extensive, but let’s cut to the point. The data on your home computers, networks, and devices comprise some of the most sensitive information for your family and potentially your employers. We must keep this safe (just like the secret bags of chips).
Here are 3 actions you can take to lay a foundation of home cyber security. This is not an exhaustive list but a reasonable place to begin.
1. Manage passwords more securely and become more productive
Passwords are getting longer, more complicated and harder to remember (no more using birthdays or Password123) but they are a first step in stopping bad actors (note: this is the term for people trying to attack you, not a reference to Nicholas Cage).
- Password manager: Utilize a password manager for you and your family (e.g., LastPass, 1Password, etc.). This enables you to remember one password versus hundreds, or from opening that unsecure Excel spreadsheet you are using each time. This is the easiest way to ensure your passwords are sufficiently complex and only used once. These services make you more productive as they recognize websites and make logging in from a computer or phone easier. Changing the dreaded password becomes a lot easier as well, and you can share passwords with family members. Then sit back and watch it create new passwords for your accounts, even more creative than “DanGerRu$$WilSoN”. Fortunately, you will never have to remember them. If you are wondering, how secure are these services? The answer is very secure (much better than your Excel spreadsheet).
- Device passwords: The password for your router, modem, and other network devices must be changed from the factory default and set to something challenging. The same goes for your laptop and phones, have a password that is challenging and do not share it.
2. Help your devices keep you secure
- Managing your devices (e.g., laptops, smartphones): turn them off at night, make sure they have strong passwords, and have your IoT devices (e.g., cameras, doorbells, garage door openers, etc.) on a different network than your laptops. If someone gets to your doorbell, you don’t want them to get to your laptop. You can usually set-up a guest network WiFi or multiple LANs with strong passwords to join and place IoT devices there.
- Security services: Be sure you have basic security services turned on from your internet (e.g., Xfinity) and device provider (e.g., Apple). They are a good step in stopping bad actors (and bad content) from entering your home, and at a minimum lessening your spam. There is a lot more to discuss here (e.g., anti-virus software, explicit and dangerous site content software, etc.), but a starting point is using these services.
3. Make cybersecurity a part of your daily life
- Have a discussion around why passwords and monitoring software or any other controls you put in place are part of keeping the family safe. You have a seatbelt and keys to the car to keep it safe – it is the same thing for your data.
- Phishing is not a good thing. Teach your kids about how email can be dangerous. A few quick tips:
- Hover over links before clicking to see where it is taking you. (Try it right now: hover over this link and look in your browser’s link preview pane, or tap and hold on your smartphone for a preview of where it’s going to take you.)
- Look for https:// in the URL
- Think about where the link is taking you, should you trust – www.facebook.friends.com? Beware of being tricked with subtle differences and minor spelling errors (like http://callousgroup.com)
This is a foundation for your family’s home security. My family has lived in the Seattle community for years and we want to see all of you have your future secure. With all of us home more, our home networks are the epicenter of work and school, and the bad actors know this. Let’s keep them away. If you have any questions or would like more insights, please feel free to connect with us below.