During Cybersecurity Awareness Month (Oct 2020), follow this and six other basic but crucial home network tips to spring-clean WFH security.

Despite the rise of workplace chat and instant messaging apps, email continues to dominate business communications both internally and externally for many of us.

Unfortunately, email is also the most common entry point for cyberattacks—sneaking malware and exploits into the network, and credentials and sensitive data out.

In another instance, with more people working remotely or from home, it is essential that we know how to keep out Internet of Things (IoT) devices and other connected computers secure from where we are.

Here, Sophos’ principal research scientist Paul Ducklin offers some cybersecurity spring-cleaning tips and seven questions you should ask yourself about devices on your home network, and about the setup of your network in general:

  1. Do I actually need this device online?
    If not, consider removing it from your network. Or if you do not need it ‘listening in’ or activated all the time, consider powering it down when you are not using it. (Simply disconnect it from the network or turn it off)
  2. Do I know how to update its operating system?
    If not, find out how; if the vendor cannot reassure you about security updates, consider to a vendor that does (and see step 1).
  3. Do I know how to configure its security features?
    Make sure you know what security settings are available, what they are for, and how to set them up (and see step 2).
  4. Have I changed any risky default settings?
    Many network and IoT devices come with default passwords and remote troubleshooting features that cybercriminals can exploit. Check and change these defaults and settings before the device connects to your network (and see step 3).
  5. How much am I sharing?
    If the device is hooked up to an online service, familiarize yourself with how much data the device is sharing, and how often. You may be happy to share some data, but never feel squeezed into turning all the options ‘to the max’ (and see steps 3 and 4).
  6. Can I “divide and conquer” my network?
    Some home routers let you split your Wi-Fi into two networks that can be managed separately. This is useful if you are working from home because it means you can put your home IoT devices on a ‘guest’ network and your work devices such as laptops on another.
  7. Do I know whom to turn to for solutions?
    Make sure you know who and where to report anything suspicious. Ask them what information they are likely to need and provide it at the outset, in order to speed up the process.

By the way, if you are an IT department looking after remote-workers, make it easy for your less-technical colleagues to reach out for help or to report suspicious activity, and take the attitude that there is no such thing as a stupid question.