You wouldn’t leave a key in your front door overnight. Or open all your windows while you’re away on vacation. But many people expose themselves to a different sort of home invasion by failing to secure their wireless networks and the digital devices that connect to them.
Internet service usually enters a home through a cable or telephone network that’s connected to a modem and wireless router. All sorts of devices—including computers, smartphones, gaming devices, and smart TVs—can connect with ease to the resulting wireless, or Wi-Fi, home network.
If criminals break into your home network, you could lose all sorts of valuable personal data that’s housed on connected devices. Shockingly, even internet-connected baby monitors are vulnerable. If that’s not bad enough, hackers could also download pornography and other unlawful content using your network, and infect your devices with viruses or spyware.
The good news is that it’s not that difficult to implement some basic protections for your wireless network. The Federal Communications Commission offers a full list of guidelines, beginning with turning on your wireless router’s encryption and firewall. You should also change the default content that came with your router, including the password and the network name.
Stay Safe Online, part of the National Cyber Security Alliance, adds that you should protect all the devices you own that connect to the wireless network. Keep your operating systems and applications up-to-date with all the latest security patches and updates, and be sure you have anti-virus software. It’s also critical to keep your passwords strong and change them frequently.
Home break-ins are extremely frightening, but remember that these days the neighborhood prowler doesn’t need to physically enter your home. In fact, some of the scariest crimes take place over wireless networks. So take a few minutes right now to protect those networks and all the devices in your home—yes, even baby monitors—that connect to them.