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Tips on how to best secure your home Wi-Fi for remote work

For some people, remote work is the best. However, it can quickly turn out to be the worst if you’re not careful about your home network safety. Failing to protect your connected devices and network configuration might lead to data breaches, unauthorized access by bad actors, device compromise, and other cyber threats. So how should you secure your home wireless network for teleworking? In this article, we provide the best tips to set up a safe and productive teleworking environment.

Tips on how to best secure your home Wi-Fi for remote work

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Why should I secure my home network?

It can be tempting to doubt whether protecting your home network is really worth the time and effort. After all, how big is the risk of getting your Wi-Fi network compromised, anyway? Turns out, it’s bigger than you might think. According to cybersecurity experts, the number of cyberattacks has jumped by 72% since the Covid-19 pandemic. As per research done by Gitnux, in addition to these numbers:

  • 63% of businesses have experienced a data breach due to employees working remotely.
  • 67% of companies faced a cyberattack since implementing remote work.
  • 68% of organizations expect to face increased challenges in cybersecurity due to remote work.

Based on these statistics, there is a high chance your Wi-Fi network could be a target for a cyberattack. A successful breach of your home wireless network would mean access to personal and work-related sensitive data, hijacked connected devices, ransomware attacks, and other types of damage.

In addition, it’s not out of the question that ensuring your network security might become a future requirement for setting up your remote workplace. However, while it’s still not certain if or when these changes are coming, it’s better to play it safe and secure your home wireless network by yourself.

Tips to secure your home network

You can secure your home wireless network in numerous ways. While most of them require only your time and effort, some might need extra financial input. However, the results they provide are more than worth it.

How should you secure your home wireless network for teleworking? Start by following the steps below.

Strengthen default passwords

Changing your Wi-Fi’s password is an essential first step in reducing the risk of unauthorized access across your wireless networks. This is also an essential step in improving your overall internet security. Users often make mistakes when setting their passwords by avoiding special symbols and using common words and predictable number sequences. While the majority of internet websites now require their users to set up complex passwords, your home networks (for example, Wi-Fi) may not enforce the same process.

When you set up a wireless network for teleworking, it is highly recommended you use a strong password that includes:

  • At least 12 characters (however, if possible, aim for 16 or more).
  • A combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters such as !, @, #, $, %.
Strong password vs weak password

When choosing a password, avoid common patterns (such as “abcdefg” or “123456”) and refrain from using personal information (such as your or your loved ones’ names). To simplify the process, employ a password generator that can create a strong and reliable password in just a few seconds.

Finally, use unique and strong passwords for different devices, email addresses, and websites. While it may sound exhausting and overcomplicated, having unique, strong passwords for different platforms will make it significantly harder for malicious actors to gain access to your data. To safely and comfortably manage all your passwords, use NordPass, a digital password protection tool that securely stores, generates, and helps you manage your passwords in one place.

Regularly update your router’s firmware

Your Wi-Fi router is the doorway to your home network. Therefore, keeping its firmware updated is important for maintaining optimal network security. Moreover, regularly updating your software (operating systems and applications) should reduce possible network vulnerabilities, add extra security features, and otherwise reduce the risk of potential exploitation.

Make sure your Wi-Fi is encrypted with WPA3

Changing your Wi-Fi’s encryption protocol to the latest Wi-Fi Protected Access standard (WPA3) will further enhance your network’s security. Compared to other Wi-Fi encryption protocols, this one offers the latest network encryption standards with stronger algorithms, which strengthens its protection against brute force attacks and data breaches.

Change the network name (SSID)

While customizing your network’s name can be a fun personal touch, you should avoid using your personal details while renaming your home Wi-Fi network. Instead, customize your network’s service set identifier (SSID) with a unique and unrelated name to obscure your home system from potential attackers.

Strong SSID names

Limit administration to the internal network

If your work requires managing sensitive data, consider disabling your router’s remote management feature. It will restrict administrative access to devices only from within your local network, mitigating the risk of unauthorized access.

Set up a VPN

Whether teleworking or browsing for your own pleasure, a virtual private network (VPN) is an optimal choice for remote workers looking to upgrade their online privacy and security. Setting your router with a VPN adds an extra layer of security by encrypting your internet traffic, thus impeding unwanted actors on monitoring and collecting your browsing data. While NordVPN is one of the best options for those browsing for personal needs, for work-related internet connection, consider using NordLayer, a VPN tool made specifically for businesses and organizations.

Use a network firewall

One of the best-known cybersecurity features – a firewall – is something that, in most routers, comes already built in. For enhanced security, be sure to activate and configure your router’s firewall settings to monitor and control incoming and outgoing traffic to add another hurdle for potential threat actors.

Implement 2FA/MFA where possible

Journalists use double confirmation (the process of verifying information by gathering it from two different credible sources) as a safeguard to prevent the spread of false information. In a similar manner, various services allow two-factor authentication (2FA) or multifactor authentication (MFA) to confirm your identity before allowing you to access the service. This feature significantly strengthens your accounts and systems, allowing you to control access to them even when your passwords or other login details get compromised. If your router allows this feature, be sure to set it up on it too.

Enable MAC address filtering

Enabling MAC address filtering allows you to choose the devices that can connect to your wireless network. Implementing this option in your network adds extra security and control to your teleworking, which makes it an optimal choice to mitigate potential risks associated with unauthorized access to your network.

Keep an eye on network activity

Comic book movie lovers might remember a time when Hawkeye shot his USB-arrow from at least 65 feet to overtake a certain Helicarier’s systems. While you may not need his archery skills to protect your internet connection, Hawkeye-like vision can benefit you while checking your network activity. Regularly monitor your network devices, ensuring that only authorized gadgets have access to your home wireless network. In case of suspicious activity, implement safety measures.

What to avoid when using a home wireless network for working

How should you secure your home wireless network for teleworking? While we have offered many options for what you can do, it is also important to stress out the practices to avoid when setting up your home wireless network.

Using default settings

Keep your wireless network’s name (SSID) and password unique. Default settings are often well-known and easily exploitable by attackers.

Using weak passwords

As mentioned previously, the importance of using strong passwords is crucial for securing your home Wi-Fi network and work-related accounts or services. When setting up your password, secure your home wireless network with complex unique passwords that are difficult to crack. If you need help, check out the tips on creating strong passwords.

Sharing Wi-Fi passwords unnecessarily

Do not share your Wi-Fi password with unnecessary individuals or devices. Limit access to your wireless network to authorized users and devices only, and consider setting up a guest network for visitors.

Neglecting firmware updates

Updating your wireless router and other network devices keeps your teleworking system less susceptible to cyber threats. Regularly check for firmware updates from the manufacturer and apply them to mitigate security vulnerabilities and improve performance.

Using public Wi-Fi networks

Connecting to public Wi-Fi networks for work-related activities, especially when handling sensitive or confidential information, can pose a huge cybersecurity risk. Public Wi-Fi networks are often unsecured and susceptible to eavesdropping and other cyber threats. To protect yourself from malicious actors, find out how to stay safe on public Wi-Fi using VPN.

Ignoring encryption

Always enable network encryption on your wireless network. Use WPA3 to protect your network traffic from interception and unauthorized access. To further enhance security and internet privacy for remote work, consider using a VPN.

Overlooking guest network security

If you have a separate network for guests, pay attention to its security settings. Configure the network with a separate SSID, isolate it from your main network, and set up appropriate access controls along with password requirements.

Ignoring security best practices

Don’t be indifferent to basic security practices for home networking, such as regularly monitoring network activity, enabling MAC address filtering, and antimalware software, and practicing safe browsing habits.

Setting a secure wireless network for teleworking may take effort, however implementing safeguards can help prevent loss of sensitive work data, unauthorized access, and other potential cyber threats.

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