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How to tell if your wireless network is secure

Man using laptop with wifi signal icon
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If there's one thing working from home has taught us, it's that most of us have no idea how to apply cybersecurity to our personal lives. Home wireless networks are a veritable minefield of security risks, from outdated router firmware to smart devices whose security has more holes than a block of swiss cheese. And that's not even getting into how many people frequently go online without sparing a single thought for data privacy. 

That's a problem. 

It's important to note before going in that we aren't here to be alarmist. If you are working from home, you represent a potential target for cybercriminals looking to attack your employer. That is simply the truth. 

Granted, the chance of a criminal specifically targeting your network — as opposed to, say, sending a phishing email — is fairly low. That does not mean you're in the clear, though. Far from it.

Man with glasses in blue light looking at computer screen

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If you are lax with the security on your home network, it opens you up to a range of threats, including, but not limited to: 

You need to do everything in your power to make sure your wireless network is secure. But how can you tell if you've done enough? How does one know that their network is as secure as they can possibly make it? 

By answering a few simple questions. 

First, are you still using default credentials anywhere on your network? That includes your router's admin control panel, your wireless network, and any smart devices you may own. If so, you need to change them immediately.

Otherwise, it's incredibly easy for someone to find your network through a search engine like Shodan.We would also recommend setting your IoT devices to local-only mode where possible. Instructions on how to do so can be found in the help documentation of each manufacturer.

Man on smartphone with holographic representation of Internet around it

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While we're on the topic of smart devices, look into the ones you're using. What sort of history does the manufacturer have? Are there any recent data breaches on record? 

While it may not be feasible to simply replace your IoT devices, we would still recommend placing any devices that you know are insecure on a separate network from your PC and smartphone. 

While you're at it, make sure everything, router included, has the latest firmware update installed. In addition to fixing critical bugs and providing quality of life improvements, these updates often fix critical security bugs. Leaving them unpatched is, simply put, a recipe for disaster. 

Using decent login credentials and keeping your systems up to date is table stakes. It's only the first step in protecting your home wireless network.You also need to think about how you'll actively protect your data — you'll want to invest in security software. 

From a wireless networking perspective, you'll want a decent firewall, which helps prevent malicious connections and some forms of cyberattack. While many routers come with this built in, not all of them do. 

Wifi router

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Never mind the fact that in most cases, router security can be charitably referred to as terrible. 

You should also look into a virtual private network. With a VPN, you can encrypt your traffic and obscure your location. In addition to safeguarding your privacy, this can potentially allow you to access certain region-locked content. 

Finally, you should ideally find a solution that will help you monitor your network. You might think that sort of thing is exclusively the domain of a corporate IT department, and you'd be correct — at least in the traditional sense. The reality is that you can benefit from network monitoring too, as it can help prevent attacks before they begin. 

Bitdefender Total Security provides all of what we described above and then some. With advanced real-time protection, a light resource footprint, and a ton of performance enhancements, it's an excellent choice for anyone who wants to treat Wi-Fi security with the care that it's due. It's also on sale for 50% off — so now's the perfect time to purchase a license.