Is Your Home Network Putting Your Company Network at Risk?

If you’re one of the lucky ones using a wireless network to work from home, you know the particular joys of drafting a major presentation from the comfort of your own couch. But while wireless networking makes time spent online a little more enjoyable, it can also open up a host of issues if your home network isn’t properly secured. Even if you only use your home network for business activities, there are likely others in your home who are online for other reasons. Social networking, gaming, personal email accounts, search engine results – all have the potential to introduce security issues to your laptop, and by extension, to your office network.

is the security of home networks endangering your network at the office?

What kinds of security issues? Viruses, malware and spyware, identity theft, and data breaches are just a few of the issues you may have to deal with if your home Wi-Fi isn’t secured. And any one of these issues could be introduced into your company’s network if it manages to take up residence on your laptop. At the very least, your personal productivity could be affected; at the worst, the entire company network could be compromised.

Hackers have discovered that one of the most effective ways to breach networks is via unsecured home Wi-Fi, where they can capture credentials, passwords, and other personal information. Maybe it’s just your neighbor siphoning off your service for a free internet connection, and maybe it’s a total stranger looking for an opportunity to hack into personal information wherever they can access it. Either way, don’t make it easy for them to do so – secure your home Wi-Fi.

Steps to secure your home Wi-Fi:

  1. If your router also functions as a wireless access point, connect to it by inputting your Gateway IP Address into your browser. If your wireless access point is a separate device, you will need to enter the IP address that it was assigned during setup. (How do I find my Gateway IP Address?)
  2. Enable encryption on your access point, using either a WPA or WPA-2 encryption scheme.
  3. Set your router access password, changing from the default to a secure password. (How do I setup a secure password?)
  4. Change the SSID (aka your network name) and DO NOT disable the SSID broadcast
  5. Enable MAC address filtering on your access point or router. The MAC address is a uniquely identifying network address assigned to network interfaces. (How do I find my MAC address?)
  6. Disable remote login
  7. Disable wireless administrating

Keep in mind that all wireless routers ship from the manufacturer with a default name and password, and it’s up to the purchaser to change these when they put the equipment into service. Changing this is the first step toward home network security.

And while we’re discussing home network security, let’s not overlook the importance of these additional security measures:

While it’s true that keeping your home network connection safe from prying eyes takes a bit of effort on your part, doing so helps to keep security issues at bay in the workplace, as well. Imagine if the information on your laptop were laid bare for the world to see. Exposed personal information, including banking and credit card numbers, and business information including login credentials and passwords, could spell trouble on many levels. By securing your home network, not only do you protect your personal information, you also keep your company’s information from being exposed. Trust me; your network administrator appreciates that.

For more information you can download this best practices pdf from the NSA.