Digital security has been an increasing priority for many companies and individuals. It often feels like news of major data breaches or attacks occurs daily. Many companies could provide an acceptable level of security measures when most of their employees were located in a centralized, physical office. However, with recent changes that significantly increased the number of remote workers at many organizations, new threats have emerged.
One of the biggest threats is home WiFi systems. And if your employer isn’t worried about your home WiFi security, you should be. Many of us use these networks almost constantly throughout the day. Our devices automatically connect. And there is a treasure trove of sensitive data on these networks, such as credit card and account numbers, passwords, and other personal information. Given the ubiquity of these networks, it’s easy to take their security for granted. But the reality is that even home networks are a natural target for cybercriminals because they hold valuable data.
Multiple attacks target WiFi networks, including:
- Rogue Devices: A rogue wireless device or access point can be added to the network, allowing a gateway for attackers.
- Peer-to-Peer Attacks: Devices can be easily attacked when they are connected to the same access points.
- Management Interface: This attack occurs when a device, such as a wireless controller, can allow you to control access points.
- Encryption Hacking: These attacks can occur quickly and are common on WEP networks. Once the encryption is cracked, the hacker has full access to the network.
- Monitoring: On unencrypted networks, this type of attack allows the cybercriminals to listen to conversations or view data sent on your network.
And while you may think that nobody would want to connect to your home network or that you are not a primary target, that would be wrong. Given the move to remote working, there has been a tremendous increase in attacks that target remote workers, who not only transmit sensitive personal data through their network but may have other targeted corporate data. The number of detected remote desktop protocol attacks looking to exploit remote workers in 2020 was 29 billion, which represents an increase of 768%.
Another primary reason that WiFi networks are attacked is that the gateways and routers often have limited security, particularly if the default passwords or settings are unchanged. Many routers and gateways sold at major electronics stores or provided by Internet Service Providers are prime targets for cybercriminals. They often fail to notify users of firmware updates, meaning many do not have the latest security measures. These vulnerabilities are easy for cybercriminals to exploit. Once compromised, these devices can monitor your information and communication. And in some instances, unauthorized users can gain access to your network, and you may not even be aware of it.
For these reasons, it’s imperative to assess the security of your WiFi network and make changes to enhance security when possible. There are several steps you can take to determine your risk, identify whether unauthorized devices are on your network, and strengthen your security measures.
- Identify Network Devices: There are countless tales of neighbors “borrowing” WiFi without authorization. And while this action is relatively harmless compared to the nefarious activities of cybercriminals, it can still have a negative impact on your network performance. Since you may be unaware if your WiFi has been hacked or has unauthorized users on it, it’s always a good idea to remain vigilant. The first warning sign for many is a slowdown in network performance. If you experience this, or if you want to check your network connections, you can check your Connected Devices or Attached Devices list on the router itself. If any of the devices are unfamiliar, it’s worth digging a bit deeper to determine what they are.
- Upgrade Your Router: If you currently have an ISP-issued router or a popular consumer one, it may be worth considering an upgrade if you can. Commercial routers for small businesses can offer enhanced safety for a reasonable price.
- Lock Down Your Router: Even if you are unable to upgrade to a commercial router, there are actions you can easily take to enhance the security of your WiFi. Unfortunately, many uses leave the administrative credentials as the default when setting up their network. This action is a huge mistake, and this should be changed immediately. You can also change the network name but keep it something that does not identify you. Enabling automatic firmware updates is another easy way to ensure that your router always has the latest security features. Enabling WPA2 or WPA3 wireless encryption restricts unauthorized users from accessing your network. Setting up a guest network is another option on some routers, making it easy for guests to use the network for a limited time.
- Consider Device-Level Security: In addition to network changes that enhance security, it’s also important to recognize that many devices can introduce vulnerabilities. Homes that have smart technologies or many Internet of Things devices may be especially vulnerable because these devices often have inherent security vulnerabilities. If you set up a guest network, it’s a great idea to place these devices on that network rather than the primary one.
While these measures are an easy way to reduce the chances of your WiFi being attacked, many other changes can be made to enhance your security further. It often depends upon the unique uses of your network, what information you have that could be targeted, and how comfortable you are with the technologies.
Many individuals may feel uncomfortable with the level of security they are personally able to provide to their WiFi network. Sagacent Technologies is a premier provider of managed IT services in the San Jose area. If you are concerned about your WiFi risks or are an employer concerned with increased risks in a remote environment, contact our team today. Our IT experts can help you develop a plan to minimize the threat of attack and keep your data safe.