The Internet is a two-way channel. We send out requests, and the Internet provides. Ask Google a question, get millions of answers. Look for something to watch, and find everything from YouTube options that you can view for free to subscription services that allow you to enjoy excellent movies or old TV shows.
Anything and everything can be available online, and that is precisely why family Internet security is an urgent matter.
Family Internet security goes far beyond the use of controls on what sites a child might visit or what words you block in search engine results. While these parental controls are a fantastic form of family Internet security, it is important to remember that we are now entering the age of smart devices, which may also be called the IoT or Internet of Things.
That describes a tremendous range of items, and some estimates say that there are anywhere from three to five in your home right now. The fitness bracelet, the Internet-connected toy or entertainment system, the smart TV or thermostat, the Internet-connected “nanny cam” or security camera…these are all devices that use the Internet, and must also be considered part of your family Internet security strategy.
What to Know About Modern Family Internet Security
Consider this frightening detail from a report on IoT vulnerabilities:
…researchers found critical vulnerabilities in a wide range of IoT baby monitors, which could be leveraged by hackers to carry out a number of nefarious activities, including monitoring live feeds, changing camera settings and authorizing other users to remotely view and control the monitor.
Imagining this is frightening, but the risks go beyond baby monitors. Some studies have found that smart TVs can be hijacked and their cameras and microphones activated by hackers, and even worse is that your entire network could be compromised if you don’t practice the best family Internet security.
It all begins with your router.
The Router and Your Family Internet Security
The router is often seen as that blinking and flashing box we want to hide from view, but which gives us access to the many marvels of the Internet. Do you know if your router is the one you got for free from the company providing you with Internet service?
Is it also the modem, or is that elsewhere in your home? You see, with just two questions, we have shown you that you may not know as much about the router as you should, but you can believe that hackers will. In fact, this is one of the most significant areas of risk to your family Internet security.
A hacker can use simple software and their laptop to find your router’s signal. If they can determine that you have left the default username in place, it is a good guess that the default password is in place too, and they have what is known as “brute force” programs that can be used to crack it.
After that, they have free access to anything on the network – even the settings that give you access to it!
Securing the router is as comfortable as changing the password to one that is not easily guessed and which features a blend of 12 or more characters. Change the username and even consider disabling the SSID broadcast to keep the device as covert as possible.
You should then change the security settings on the router, using the most secure encryption (WPA2), and even using the MAC filtering feature that requires any MACs to be individually registered to the system.
One thing that many router owners fail to do is make sure that their administrative panel cannot be reached online. If a hacker can identify your IP address, they could quite easily open your router’s admin panel by typing HTTP://[your IP address].
If your admin panel pops up when you enter this, log in and reset the panel to operate only on wired connections.
Usually, this means you unclick a WiFi access option.
Your family Internet security is also more of a certainty when you update the firmware on the router. Most of us never even think of upgrading the device, yet it is often the recipient of security patches and updates that are crucial to its most efficient operations.
If you overlook these updates, it could be one of the simplest things for a hacker to exploit.
Beyond the Router
Once you enter past the router, things can get either more complex or simplified, depending on your particular perspective. To secure your network past the router is usually done with anti-virus and anti-malware software on your computers and mobile devices.
These will also use firewalls in addition to the router firewall. However, you may have noticed that the security here is limited to only specific devices.
If you have any other Internet-connected devices, and we know that most of us do, it means that your family Internet security has to be guaranteed in alternative ways.
First things first, write down everything you believe should be on the network. That SLR digital camera with WiFi access, the baby monitor, the wireless printer, the gaming system…what does your family use that also requires access to the home network?
Then use your computer to take a look at everything that is on the network. Your router’s admin panel shows everything that is inactive and active, and this can help you discover if you’ve overlooked something – or if there is an active threat!
Most are surprised at how many devices are alive and operating in their homes, and it is now up to you to make sure that the firmware on all of them remains up to date too. Yes, that is a lot of work and on an ongoing basis.
To reduce the stress levels about this, however, consider taking one very savvy step towards family Internet security, and installing a gateway device.
CUJO, as a prime example, is something you plug into your router and it then begins working with all of your Internet-connected devices. It learns their patterns and recognizes if anything is amiss, blocking traffic to it at that point.
That means that any malicious information attempting to come through the router and into the device is blocked, even if the device is not as secure or up to date as it could be. That is an ideal way to keep your family Internet security and your network safe.