In the era of working from home, better known as teleworking, individuals and companies are searching for the best ways to protect sensitive business information. With the increased risk of cyber threats, knowing how should you secure your home wireless network for teleworking should be a top priority.
The work-from-home model became popular after the coronavirus outbreak. The pandemic forced millions of employees globally to transition to working remotely. Some companies have since embraced the model and now prefer teleworking to working from a company office.
Teleworking presents a myriad of new challenges like an increase in cybersecurity attacks. A Threatpost survey shows that 40% of companies saw an increase in hacking attacks after employees started working from home.
Some of the most prevalent attacks include phishing scams and malware. These cyber-threats can be costly to a company as the hackers might demand ransom worth millions of dollars. In some cases, sensitive company information can be sold on the dark web, causing unfathomable losses to a company.
If you are working remotely, you should know that hackers are always looking for weak points in your network that they can exploit. In this case, you need to protect yourself and your company from intruders.
In this guide, we are going to take an in-depth look at how should you secure your home wireless network for teleworking.
6 Tips on How Should You Secure Your Home Wireless Network for Teleworking
1. Use a modern operating system
The first step towards securing your home network for teleworking is upgrading to a modern operating system (OS) and keeping it up to date.
Whenever an OS developer releases the most recent version of an operating system, it comes with security features that were lacking in the previous versions. A majority of these security features are enabled by default, and they fix vulnerabilities that could be exploited by threat actors.
Whether you are working from home with a laptop, desktop, or smartphone, ensure you are using the latest supported OS.
It is also advisable to enable the automatic update feature where possible. This feature will install updates to your device as soon as they are released. Doing this keeps your device updated and free from security threats.
Case in point
In January 2024, Google revealed the CVE-2024-0519 vulnerability on the Chrome web browser. Google also hesitated to share more details about the bug until most users had updated their Chrome browsers.
The high critical zero-day flaw was reported anonymously to Google on January 11. Cybersecurity researchers believe that if exploited, the flaw can steal crucial information like passwords, credit card details, and other personal data.
The Chrome web browser is used by many companies and individuals linking to video conferencing platforms like Zoom. Therefore, failing to update your Chrome browser exposes you and your company to the flaw.
2. Secure routing devices and ensure they are up to date
The other safety practice to complete when teleworking is securing your routing devices and ensuring they are up-to-date. If you are using a modem or router provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) ensure it is kept updated.
One best practice when it comes to routers is using a personally-owned routing device linking to the modem or router provided by your ISP. You should also learn how to customize the router to create a separate wireless network for guests. It is also recommended that you separate your guest network from trusted and private devices.
Your modem/router is the entry into your home network. If you lack the right security measures and fail to update, hackers can use it to gain access to your work documents and conversations.
Ensure that your router is updated to minimize vulnerabilities and boost security. It is best to set up automatic updates where possible. You should also discard a modem/router that reaches end-of-life and cannot get updates.
Case in point
In December 2023, cybersecurity researchers detected 21 security flaws in Sierra Wireless AirLink cellular routers. The security flaws in these routers exposed them to hacking attacks.
These routers are some of the most popular and are used in critical infrastructure sectors. If a hacker exploited the vulnerabilities, they could conduct multiple attacks including distributed denial-of-service DDoS attacks, remote code execution, and stealing credentials.
The researchers at Forescout Vedere Labs revealed that the security flaws left at least 86,000 routers vulnerable to the exploit.
3. Turn on WPA3 or WPA2
Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) is a security measure for devices connected to wireless networks. When teleworking, it is advisable to have at least WPA2 turned on. Implementing WPA3 is also recommended for additional security.
If your device does not support WPA3, you can choose the option of WPA2/3. With this option, newer devices can use a more secure method while older devices will use WPA2 to connect to the network. When buying a new device, ensure it has WPA3.
Another security measure to consider is using a strong passphrase when configuring WPA3 or WPA2/3. You should also change the default service set identifier (SSID) to a unique number. However, you should not hide the SSID as it might result in compatibility issues.
WPA is a form of cryptography that prevents others from accessing sensitive information without authorization. However, using older WPA versions is ineffective, and leaves older network devices vulnerable to hacking attacks.
Case in point
In 2017, cybersecurity researchers detected a security flaw affecting implementations of WPA1 and WPA2. The flaw could be used to decrypt sensitive information and drive malicious traffic through DDoS exploits.
The flaw affected multiple devices including Android, Apple, Linux, Windows, Linksys, etc. An attacker could exploit the flaw when they are within the range of the wireless network. The hacker could also decrypt data on the WiFi network.
Given the details of this attack, it is clear that older versions of WPA are vulnerable to attacks. WPA3 is currently the safest standard to use.
How to check the security type of my WiFi
Below is how to identify the security type of your WiFi on multiple devices:
- Press the “Option” key
- Go to the WiFi icon in the toolbar
- View the WiFi network details such as security type
- Click on the WiFi connection icon on the taskbar
- Go to “Properties” on your WiFi connection
- Scroll down to find your WiFi the security type
- Go to “Settings” on your Android phone
- Open “WiFi”
- Choose the router and view details including the WiFi security type
You cannot view the WiFi security on your iPhone. The only way to view the security of your WiFi with an iPhone is to log in to the router using your phone and view the details.
4. Check the router’s firewall capabilities
The other thing you should check is the firewall capabilities of your router. You need to ensure that the personally-owned routing device you are using can support basic firewall capabilities.
Some things to check include the network address translation (NAT) that prevents internal systems from getting scanned using the network boundary. For instance, if your ISP supports IPv6, you should ensure that your router has firewall capabilities for IPv6.
Firewalls ensure that malicious network traffic looking to enter a network is kept at bay. This process guarantees that hacking attacks will not access devices. Therefore, if you are looking at how should you secure your home wireless network for teleworking, check the firewalls to the home routers and ensure they are enabled.
Case in point
In January 2024, the US Department of Justice announced successfully disrupting the operations of government-sponsored hackers in China. The government said that these hackers were targeting critical US infrastructure.
The hacking exploits involved the threat actors gaining unauthorized access to hundreds of routers used by homes and small businesses. US officials revealed they managed to halt the exploit, but it shows the increased need for a security firewall.
When you have a security firewall installed on your router, you will find it becomes easier to safeguard the activities you do on your device. It also ensures that as you work from home, your connection remains safe and private.
5. Install security software
The other answer to how should you secure your home wireless network for teleworking is by having security software installed.
If you are working from home for a company that handles sensitive data and information, it is advisable to have a layered defense that will keep attackers at bay. This process involves having anti-virus, anti-phishing, anti-malware, and firewall capabilities.
For the best security system, a security suite needs to be built into the operating system or be available for installation as a separate product on user devices. You can also opt for a cloud-based security mechanism to detect and prevent malware.
Given the examples that we have seen above of threat actors posing a danger to home computers, it is paramount to invest in a good defense system.
6. Basic safety practices
Above, we have listed the technicalities around how should you secure your home wireless network for teleworking. However, the greatest weakness of work safety is human error.
Therefore, you need to practice some basic safety practices that will keep your work and business secrets safe.
i. Protect passwords
One of the best safety practices is to protect your passwords. You need to ensure that passwords are protected with multi-factor authentication as they provide access to personal information.
One thing to note when it comes to protecting passwords is that they need to be strong and unique for every account. You also need to create passwords that are difficult to guess.
You should also refrain from storing passwords and answers to challenge questions in the form of plain text on your computer. A hacker can easily access such files and unlock sensitive accounts.
It is also advisable to have a password manager. Password managers allow you to create unique and complex passwords for your accounts and you do not have to remember them. The password manager will retrieve the passwords whenever you need to use them.
ii. Beware of listening devices
Another safety practice to adopt is to beware of home assistants and smart devices that might have microphones. Such devices are always listening to conversations even when you are not actively using them. Someone can also spy on you through the TV.
If these listening devices are compromised, a hacker can easily access your conversations. Therefore, if you are in a work meeting having sensitive conversations, consider switching off the devices.
It is also advisable to disconnect internet access to a device when it is not in use. However, after reconnecting to the internet, make sure you go online and check whether there are any updates that you can install.
iii. Ensure confidentiality
You can also ensure the security of your home network using a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN offers a remote connection to your internal corporate network using a secure tunnel, giving you a safe way of accessing work information.
A VPN network gives you an extra layer of security while ensuring you take advantage of the services given to on-site users. There are many VPN networks that you can leverage to secure your working from home.
Working from home has become a common concept. Nearly every industry has some employees working from home. While the model is improving efficiency and cutting office costs, it comes with the risk of cybersecurity attacks, with many asking how should you secure your home wireless network for teleworking.
Hackers are constantly looking for vulnerabilities in home networks to snoop on people who might be working from home and steal business secrets. Therefore, employees and companies need to employ safety practices to protect their information.
Some top safety practices include updating your software and routers. You should also use the latest WiFi Security Standard that has a lower risk of being hacked. Basic safety practices like password protection and VPNs add an extra layer of security.
How should you secure your home wireless networks for teleworking?
You can secure your home wireless networks for teleworking by updating routers, using the latest WiFi security standard, updating the operating system, and using firewalls and defense systems. Protecting passwords and VPNs also adds an extra layer of security.
Are hackers snooping on my home network?
Hackers are always looking for vulnerabilities they can exploit. Therefore, if your operating system, router, or device has a flaw, a hacker will exploit it and access sensitive work conversations and accounts.
Can my employer suffer losses if my home network is hacked?
If a hacker collects sensitive information by hacking into your home network, they can conduct a ransomware campaign. They might demand ransom from your employer and threaten to leak stolen information. A hacking attack could also dent the credibility of your employer and lead to customers leaving.
How do I keep my router up to date?
You can check your router manual for the detailed process of how to update it. Some routers allow auto-update where they will automatically install updates released by the manufacturer.