Tips for keeping your home network safe

Chemistry professor Diana Aga, and her daughter, Renee, 16, photographed at their Snyder home in April 2020. They are spending their time home working and studying due to the COVID-19 social distancing recommendations.

Photo by Meredith Forrest Kulwicki

Published May 4, 2020

Most of us use our home internet every day, for everything from working to shopping, paying our bills, watching TV and more. Like anything in your home, your internet connection is personal—so follow these steps to keep it secure, and keep yourself safe.

Print

If you’re working from home, follow UB’s recommendations for staying secure while working remotely. While these tips are meant to keep the official data and devices you use for work safe, these tips can be applied in our everyday lives to improve our general safety while using the Internet at home.

Secure yourself

As always, you are the first line of defense in keeping yourself safe.

Make sure you know how to recognize a phishing attempt, then read about the latest scams targeting the UB community on the UBIT website. In particular, you should be aware that: 

If you suspect you have received a phishing attempt, report it to abuse@buffalo.edu. Be sure to follow the instructions for reporting a phishing attempt on the UBIT website. 

Secure your devices

The fastest and easiest way to make your devices more secure is to make sure they are up-to-date with the latest operating system and app updates. Most devices allow for automatic updates—you should turn this on whenever possible to ensure your device’s software is as secure as possible automatically.

If you’re working on official UB business at home, always use the UBVPN. This creates a secure connection between your device and UB’s networks for all UB-related services. Setting up the UBVPN is easy, and can be done on practically any desktop, laptop or mobile device.

Secure your router

As the single device that brings the internet into your home, your router has a lot of power to keep you and your devices safe. It’s worth taking a little time to make sure it’s configured correctly for maximum security.

  • Routers, like any other device, get regular updates—make sure your router has the latest security updates.
  • Change the default network name (SSID) and password, since these are often standardized and easy to guess.
  • Create a separate network for guests to use, if possible, so you don’t have to give out your password. This also prevents compromises on your guest network from affecting your main network.
  • Create a separate network for those “smart” home devices like speakers, TVs, thermostats etc.
  • Enable the built-in firewall.
  • If you’re a bit more advanced, you can tighten your router’s security settings even further:
    • Disable remote access, UPnP and WPS.
    • Disable SSID broadcasting.
    • Set the highest level of encryption possible, WPA3 if it’s available, otherwise use WPA2-AES.
    • Enable MAC address filtering, and allowing only approved devices to connect to your network.

Some home routers and firewalls and wireless access points (WAPs) are combined in one unit, and some can be separate devices.  Home routers, firewalls, and WAPs can also have different security settings and features depending upon the model, age, and complexity of the device.

Get more information for staying safe

Staying safe online starts with you, no matter where you are. You can find more tips for staying safe online on the UBIT website.