When Sharing (Networks and Data) Isn’t Caring

networkingThese days, there are all sorts of ways to connect your devices. Instead of bothering with tangled wires and lost plugs, you can set up a wireless network to share data from one device to another. Alternatively, a few Bluetooth-enabled devices can communicate via radio waves without an internet connection. Finally, you can take advantage of the cloud to make sure your data is accessible anywhere, at any time, and from any device. All these opportunities to connect are convenient, comfortable ― and exceedingly dangerous for unprotected devices.

Linking your devices is a good way to share data, but it is also a good way to share malware and other cyberthreats. In recent years, hackers have become much more sophisticated, and their malicious tools can largely spread indiscriminately from device to device. Before you consider connecting to another device ― whether it’s your own or someone else’s ― you should make sure you are protected in the following ways.

Protect All Devices

While you should always be wary of public networks, even private networks carry some risk of infecting your devices. Therefore, before you connect to any network, you should ensure all your devices are properly protected. Any device that can connect to the internet should have appropriate security software.

Some security providers offer packages that allow you to install appropriate applications on every device you own, like maximum internet security software. These solutions will protect your devices from threats like hacking and malware regardless of your connection to the internet, and some software even offers parental controls to help kids stay away from online threats. As for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, like smart thermostats or the Amazon Echo, you can keep them protected by only using them with well-known networks and protecting those networks in the following ways.

Protect All Networks

The best way to build a secure network is to start from the ground up. Different types of networks are more secure than others: Wired, Ethernet networks are perhaps the safest because, unlike Wi-Fi networks, they require physical connections to reach other devices. However, if your network is large, wiring your devices together might be inordinately expensive and inconvenient. Nearly every home and workplace these days uses either a hybrid or full-Wi-Fi network, which can be infiltrated by anyone nearby with a wireless-enabled device ― unless you set up the proper security.

For networks with routers, the crucial first step is enabling the router’s password function and changing it to something unique. Most default router passwords are similar or identical to all other routers of the same make and model, which means hackers have an easier time infiltrating networks without individual codes. While you’re at it, you should also change the name of your network, so you can identify it quickly in the local network list. Your network’s name is changeable under tabs marked SSID, which means service set identifier.

Next, you must disable remote router access. While devices in your local area might still detect and log onto your wireless network, this step prevents anyone from a remote location ― like Russia or China ― from gaining control of your devices. Under the SSID menu, you should also disable broadcasting, so strangers can’t simply pick up your wireless signal.

Finally, you should double-check and enable the potent security features of your router. Most routers come with their firewalls enabled by default, but you should make certain yours is active. This firewall shouldn’t replace those on your computers and other devices; rather, they should work in tandem to guard against threats. Additionally, you should encrypt the data on your network using WPA. With encryption, hackers who infiltrate your network won’t be able to understand any of your data.

Protect All Clouds

cloud-computingUndoubtedly you still rely on a network to access the internet, but many people and businesses are beginning to rely more on the cloud to save and share data. Unfortunately, clouds aren’t inherently secure, and even more unfortunately, there is little you can do to make your cloud provider more secure. Before you move any information or services to the cloud, you should be certain that your cloud provider takes security seriously. Even then, it is wise to avoid storing sensitive information in the cloud.

However, if you must use the cloud for important data, you can encrypt your files before transferring them. Software that zips and encrypts your data, like B1 Free Archiver, usually makes the process easy, but typically, you cannot modify that data online once the encryption has taken place. An alternative is finding a cloud service that utilizes encryption, which thankfully more and more companies are beginning to do.

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