Working from Home? Follow the NSA’s Tips for Securing Your Home Network
The NSA, a branch of the US government responsible for national security, has recently released a set of instructions aimed at assisting individuals who work remotely. This advice aids in safeguarding their home networks & protecting their devices from potential cyber-attacks. Our experts at IT Resources add to these recommendations to ensure your network has everything it needs to be optimally secured.
The shift to working from home has ushered in many changes, and one of them is the need to ensure your router’s security. With so much traffic running through the router—from streaming services to video calls—it can quickly become a target for hackers.
Luckily, The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) recently issued a list of guidelines to help remote workers secure their home networks and defend against cyber-attacks.
From updating firmware, choosing secure passwords, and recognizing potential threats, our IT specialists at IT Resources outline how you can keep your router safe & secure while working from home.
Keep Data Secure: The NSA’s Advice
The easiest way to protect yourself, your family, and your work is by practicing basic cybersecurity behaviors, starting with your router.
The NSA’s advice on the best practices for at-home router safety includes the following tips:
- Regularly upgrade and update all software and equipment
- Backup your data
- Disconnect devices when a Wi-Fi connection is not required
- Cover webcams or disable microphones when not in use
- Limit administration to the internal network only
- Set up unique passwords and use multi-factor authentication
Security Tips to Keep Your Network Safe
When protecting your devices and personal information from cyber threats when working from home, being proactive is key.
The NSA recommendations for device security, router security, and overall cyber security that can help keep your data safe include:
#1. Use Your Own Router
The NSA advises using an up-to-date personal router over the standard Internet Service Provider (ISP) provided modem or router, which often does not receive regular security updates.
Remember, your router is the gateway to your home’s network.
Without proper security measures, it can be easily compromised.
To add to this, our IT team suggests routers should also be replaced as soon as or before their end-of-life date, to ensure that hackers can’t exploit network breach attempts.
#2. Keep Operating Systems Up to Date
According to the NSA, the most recent version of an operating system (OS) contains updated or enhanced default security features that are not found in the previous version.
Increase the difficulty of hackers gaining privileged access to your network by using the latest available OS for your desktop, laptop, and smart devices including your cell phone.
We suggest enabling automatic updates when available, but if this is not possible, download and install updates from a trusted vendor at least once a month.
#3. Ensure Protection by Keeping Your Router’s Firmware Up-to-Dare
Router manufacturers often release firmware updates that fix security vulnerabilities and other issues. Be sure to check for and install any available updates regularly or have them update automatically.
#4. Implement Enhanced Security Software
Security software provides a layered defense via the following capabilities:
- Safe browsing
- Firewall capabilities
Though a security suite may be built into the operating system on your computer, tablet, or laptop, they are also available to install as a separate product or subscription.
Some devices such as home assistants, smart home devices, video game consoles, or baby monitors may not support the installation of security software. But they can still be breached, so use them with caution.
Further, we tell clients that full disk encryption should be implemented on laptops, mobile phones, and tablets to prevent the loss of data.
Read More > Mobile Encryption: Keeping Remote Workers Safe
#5. Enable Password Protection
Since passwords can be used to access personal and work-related information, it is crucial to make passwords and the answers to challenge questions are strong and unique.
Never store passwords in a plain text document
(even in your phone’s notes) to which a hacker might have access.
The NSA recommends using a password manager as it allows you to use complex passwords without needing to remember them.
#6. Limit Use of Your Administrator Account
The administrator account on your computer or laptop can overwrite all files and configurations on your system. Because of this, malware can compromise your system if it is executed when you are logged in as an administrator.
To prevent this, create a separate user account for web browsing, email access, and file creation or editing. Only use the administrator account for updates, installations, or maintenance.
#7. Reboot Your Devices Regularly
We suggest manually rebooting all devices at least once a week or setting up a scheduled restart. This can aid in removing any potential threats that may have infiltrated the system.
Also, it is recommended to:
- Backup data on external hard drives or portable media, but make sure to disconnect the external storage when not in use.
- Avoid connecting your phone or computer to a public charging station if you are away from home, at a cafe, or in an airport.
- Leave computers in sleep mode to easily install updates automatically.
- Turn off devices and disconnect from the Internet when not in use.
#8. Ensure Confidentiality When Working Remotely
The security of your home network doesn’t just affect your personal information, but also your network and work information when teleworking.
To ensure safety and confidentiality, we advise using a virtual private network (VPN) to remotely connect to any internal corporate networks. The NSA agrees this provides an enhanced layer of security while you access sensitive company data.
Never click on any attachments or links from unsolicited emails, whether in your work or personal email.
#9. Be Careful on Social Media
Honestly, this applies whether you work from home or in the office. Avoid posting your address, phone number, place of employment, or other personal information on your social media accounts. Some scam artists can use this information to figure out answers to your security questions.
Protect Your Network with IT Resources
It is clear that the threat of cyber security breaches is real and can have far-reaching consequences, not just for those working from home. By following the NSA's tips, you can help protect your network and those you work with.
We know you are busy with the day-to-day obligations that come with working from home, so let us take the task of securing your home network off your hands. Protect your router with the help of our IT specialists today!
Call IT Resources today for a consultation and we will ensure that your network is safe and secure.