What is Network Security?

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When a router is first installed, it will typically have default security features already enabled, such as the wireless password and firewall. However, other features exist which, when configured appropriately, may serve to better secure your network.

 

Originally, routers were only capable of providing a wired connection, but with today’s technology that is no longer the case. With the convenience of wireless connectivity in today’s routers and the plethora of client devices with network access, there is now, more than ever, the growing need for network security, especially over Wi-Fi.

 

Today’s routers do not simply send and receive data from one point to another. Now they can serve as a VPN connection, protect your network in real-time from outside threats, interact with your smart speaker, and so forth.

 

As routers evolve, so do recommendations for network security that everyday users should consider. For instance, remote access to routers is more common today, so you want to ensure you have a unique admin login and password to prevent someone from connecting to the router’s UI that should not have access.

 

The software that operates the router also referred to as firmware, should be periodically checked for updates.  Keeping your router updated on the latest firmware can help protect from vulnerabilities by applying bug fixes and addressing security flaws you may or may not know exist.  Some network vulnerabilities may even be introduced by unsuspecting users.  These everyday visitors to your residence may arrive with the best intentions, but like someone with a cold, may cause harm, whether intentional, to your network.

 

Today’s routers may still offer outdated and sometimes unsecure features.  For instance, WPS or, Wireless Protected Setup is a quick, one-touch feature meant to provide a fast, secure, and intuitive method for connecting client devices to your network. However, in today’s environments, it can be easily exploited. UPnP or Universal Plug and Play is another commonly used feature designed to make networking life easier but can cause havoc when exploited by malicious programs that specifically look for weaknesses in UPnP.

 

As more and more of our daily lives become connected and Wi-Fi technology advances, so should the need for security to protect one’s network and data. Wireless security protocols over the years have advanced significantly.  WEP, WPA, and WPA2-PSK, were all effective security mechanisms during their initial introduction to Wi-Fi networking, but over the years, exploits and vulnerabilities have been found or devised that can potentially threaten networks utilizing these encryption methods. Currently, you can maintain a secure network while running WPA2-PSK with AES encryption, but with WPA3 becoming more readily available, it may be a more effective alternative for securing your network.  Using an older or outdated security mechanism when newer and more secure options are available is comparable to having a non-functional door lock. Though you may seem secure, it provides little or no real protection if the door can simply be opened with just a little manipulation.

 

That covers the primary methods of securing access to your network, but there are yet more steps that can be taken to further bolster your network’s defenses by securing your data or the devices connected to your network.  Features like firewalls and antivirus suites can block nefarious links or sites that might otherwise infect your network and its devices.  You may even consider using features like parental controls, which let you control the content your children are able to access and provide protection from inappropriate content to online predators.  Another helpful feature to consider that can block or allow specific clients to connect to the network is known as the Access Control List.

 

When approaching network security, there are many ways to go about how you want to be protected. As times and technology change, so should the security features and capabilities of your network devices, as well as your knowledge of methods to secure your home network, to protect yourself and your family. With various aspects of our lives becoming increasingly intertwined with the Internet, the more important it becomes to proactively prevent malicious actors from taking advantage of potential vulnerabilities in the technology we use daily.

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