There’s been a huge increase in remote working since the start of the Covid-19 virus. It makes good business sense. After all, why risk your whole staff being infected by the virus when remote working is a viable solution?
Aside from the decreased risk of infection, allowing employees to work from home boosts morale and can increase productivity. It’s also a helpful solution for parents whose children are unable to attend school or pre-school due to lockdowns.
It’s not all sunshine and roses, though. Employees working from home could present a real risk to the business’s cybersecurity without the proper precautions. In this post, we’ll go over one area that many overlook – the security of the employee’s router at home.
We’ve dealt with the issue of securing your private data on this site already. Today we’re expanding the topic to include the security of your company’s data online. Or, to be more specific, how you improve the security of your remote employee’s home router.
Before We Get to the Router
Even if you get everything right from the start, there are still risks. Employees may mistakenly click on an email loaded with malware or ransomware. In seconds, the malware could infect your company’s entire system.
You can avoid that happening by ensuring that your anti-virus email scanning software operates on each employee’s computer. It’s also a good idea to give employees a refresher course in cybersecurity awareness.
The next step to take is to plan for something to go wrong. Hopefully everything will run smoothly. That’s not something that you can count on, though. What if someone breaks into the home and steals the work computer? What if the network is breached?
Encrypting all the data on the work computer makes sense. It also makes sense to back the data up regularly. A cloud-based backup system will make it easier to coordinate all the backups.
Better Security for the Home Router
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s go through steps you can take to better secure routers.
Scan the Network Your Employee Will Use
Check to see whether or not your anti-virus software has a function to scan networks. If it does, run this on each of your employee’s home networks. You should do this before letting them work from home.
The scan will tell you what vulnerabilities there are in the network, and what devices are connected to it.
Check the Age of the Router
An older router is still capable of getting the job done. Despite how hard these devices work, they can keep going for a number of years. That said, if the model is outdated, and the manufacturers no longer provide software updates, it’s time to replace it.
Older hardware can be vulnerable to newer forms of malware if the company no longer releases software patches.
Update the Software
It’s advisable to make sure that the router’s software is completely up to date. Where possible, employees should set their devices to automatically check for updates.
Make Sure That the Router Security is Adequate
The employee’s router does usually have encryption protocols built into it. Have them check their router settings to ensure that the encryption is on. It’s a good idea to enable WPA2 encryption protocols at the very least.
This is a good start, but it’s not enough on its own. Encryption makes the data unreadable while it’s on the move. It doesn’t actively prevent the data from being stolen.
Rename the Router
This may seem a little silly. After all, what does the name matter? Most routers include the make and model in their SSID name. That helps hackers because then they know what device they’re dealing with.
It’s best to set a generic name like “Lounge.” Don’t use any personal information when creating the new name.
Using a Guest Network
Using a shared connection is convenient. It can also be problematic.
Think of it this way – if someone visits you and you give them your WI-Fi password, they have access to every device on that network. Now, you may know your friends and family well. They may not seem to be the type to steal information or take advantage of a friend.
The fact is that people might surprise you. When a serial killer is arrested, how often do neighbours say that they knew there was something wrong? In most cases, neighbours are amazed that the “normal” person could do something so vile.
With the current COVID-19 crisis, people might be pushed to measures that they’d never normally consider.
Another thing to think about is that smart devices all over the home will be sharing the same connection. This presents another security risk for your business.
Keep your company a little safer by asking employees to set up a separate network for office work only.
Here are some general rules they should follow:
- They have to use a very secure password
- They must not use this password on any other network or site
- Every time they’re working, they must log into this network
- They can’t share the password with anyone else
- Only devices essential to business operations can be linked
Disable Network Discovery
Check the settings on your computer and router for automatically detecting nearby devices. Your computer should not be discoverable on the Wi-Fi network.
These settings make it easy to connect through to other devices like printers. They also make it easy for anyone who accesses your network to find out what devices are on that network.
If a hacker does manage to hack your phone, they’ll be able to discover your computer on the same network. On the computer, make sure that your network sharing settings are set to “Off.”
If that’s not a viable option, consider renaming your office computer. Choose a generic name like “Alarm” or something similar so that anyone who accesses the network won’t know it’s a computer.
Also, switch off Bluetooth sharing until you actually need. It’s a pain to have to reactivate it when you need it, but it’s a good safety precaution.
Consider Limiting the Range of the Signal
This tip does seem to be counterintuitive, but hear us out. Using a range extender makes it easy to access the internet from any point in the home. Do you know how far the range extends, though?
Even with our current technology, you might be able to pick up a signal from your neighbour’s Wi-Fi. With 5G on the horizon, this will become even more of an issue.
5G is a lot more powerful than what’s gone before. It’ll more easily penetrate walls and other physical barriers.
The point is that it’s more difficult to limit physical proximity in an apartment complex than it might be in an office building that you own. If a hacker finds out where your employee stays, they might sit a little way down the hall and still be able to pick up a signal.
For this reason, it’s best to limit the range of your Wi-Fi signal when working from home.
Are these steps enough to provide you with complete security? They’re not even close. That said, as part of an integrated cybersecurity plan, they provide extra barriers for cybercriminals.
The more protected your data is, the more work it is for a bad actor to access. Many of them will respond by looking for softer targets.