Many homes these days have smart, interconnected devices that make life much easier. Whether they’re security cameras, smart light bulbs, or other smart enabled systems, embedded devices don’t come without risks that could compromise your privacy. Many users wonder why home networking devices are often fraught with security problems, and given these security holes, home owners may not be the only one with sole access to their systems, but cybercriminals as well. In many cases, the lack of proper security mechanisms can make it easier for malicious parties to brute-force user credentials and access Web and mobile interfaces. In 2014, Shellshock affected many devices, including computers, routers, and even smart bulbs that run on Linux OS.
How can cybercriminals attack home networks?
Routers are the first line of defense against hackers and make for ideal targets as a point that allows them into the network. Once they gain control of your router, they can monitor and tamper with your devices and online activities. Yet, sadly, only a few users realize that routers are practically vulnerable since they are the one point in your home that’s exposed directly to the Internet. It also functions as a firewall that guards other devices from unauthorized inbound connections.
In some cases, routers have firmware bugs that appear to be obscure or minor. However, these flaws are the very things that give hackers enough room to exploit systems and gain access.
How to secure your home router
There are things you can do right now to beef up your home router’s security. To prevent or minimize attacks, here are basic tips you can follow:
Change administrative default settings – administrator privileges and passwords are the first things attackers will try to crack.
Close the network and use encryption – most home owners leave their Wi-Fi visible to anyone within range. Improve the network’s security by opening the router setup screen and enable either WEP or WPA, and then enter the passphrase to generate the encryption keys. Make sure that your encryption has the proper configuration and implementation of security protocols.
Disable remote-access related features – this essentially allows you to remotely manage and use FTP when you’re not at home. However, this can expose management interfaces. If you need to turn it on, make sure you use HTTPS for the remote management and use the proper restrictions.
Update your firmware regularly – as mentioned above, vulnerabilities and bugs left unchecked can leave your router open to exploits. To prevent this from happening, make sure your firmware is current and updated. Steps to update a router may vary depending on the model, but you can check from the router control panel.
Enable your router’s firewall – While this setting is usually enabled by default, make sure that it’s activated to add an extra layer of security to your network.