10 techniques to secure your home network

With the internet, we are able to accomplish tasks more efficiently and conveniently from our homes. However, with technology, there are security risks which is why home network security is important.

Home network security refers to the protection of a network that connects devices such as routers, computers, smartphones and Wi-Fi-enabled baby monitors and cameras to each other and to the internet within someone’s home.

Most home users share two common misconceptions about the security of their home networks… Their home network is too small to be at risk of a cyberattack and/or their devices are ‘secure enough’ right out of the box.

By following some simple, but effective mitigation techniques, home users can significantly reduce the attack surfaces of their home networks and make it difficult for a malicious cyber actor to launch a successful attack.


1. Update software regularly. Regular software updates are an effective, if not the most effective, step you can take to improve the overall cybersecurity of a home network and system. Besides adding new features and functionality, software updates often include critical patches and security fixes for newly discovered threats and vulnerabilities. Most modern software applications will automatically check for newly released updates. If automated updates are not available, consider purchasing a new software program that identifies and centrally manages all installed software updates.

2. Remove unnecessary services and software. Disable all unnecessary services to reduce the attack surface of your network and devices, including the router. Unused or unwanted services and software can create security holes on a device’s system, which could lead to an increased attack surface of the network environment. This is especially true with new computer systems on which vendors will often pre-install a large number of trail software and applications that users may never use. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recommends that you research and remove any software or services that are not being used regularly.

3. Adjust factory-default configurations on software and hardware. Many software and hardware products come out of the box with overly permissive factory-default configurations intended to make them user-friendly and reduce the troubleshooting time for customer service. Unfortunately, these default configurations are not geared toward security. Leaving them enabled after the installation may create more avenues for an attacker to exploit. Users should take steps to harden the default configuration parameters to reduce vulnerabilities and protect against intrusions.

4. Change default log-in passwords and usernames. Most network devices are pre-configured with default administrator passwords to simplify setup. These credentials are not secure and may be readily available on the internet or even physically labeled on the device itself. Leaving these unchanged creates opportunities for malicious cyber actors to gain unauthorized access to information, install malicious software and cause other problems.

5. Use strong and unique passwords. Choose strong passwords to help secure devices. In addition, do not use the same password for multiple accounts. This way, if one account is compromised, the attacker won’t be able to breach any of the other accounts you may have.

6. Run up-to-date antivirus software. A reputable antivirus software application is an important protective measure against known malicious threats. It can automatically detect, quarantine and remove various types of malware, such as viruses, worms and ransomware. Many antivirus solutions are extremely easy to install and intuitive to use. CISA recommends that all computers and mobile devices on a home network run antivirus software. Additionally, it is important to enable automatic virus definition updates to ensure maximum protection against the latest threats.

7. Install a network firewall. Firewalls at the boundary of a home network defend against external threats. A firewall can block malicious traffic from being able to enter a home network and it sends alerts regarding the potentially dangerous activity. When properly configured, it can also serve as a barrier to internal threats, preventing unwanted or malicious software from reaching the internet. Most wireless routers come with a configurable, built-in network firewall that includes additional features such as access controls, web-filtering and denial of service (DoS) defense that can be tailored to fit a networking environment. Some firewall features, including the firewall itself, may be turned off by default. Ensuring that the firewall is on and all settings are properly configured will help strengthen the network security of a home network.

8. Regularly back up data. Make and store, using either external media or a cloud-based service, regular backup copies of all valuable information residing on the device. Consider a third-party backup application, which can simplify and automate the process. Encrypt the backup to protect the confidentiality and integrity of your information. Data backups are crucial to minimizing the impact if that data is lost, corrupted, infected or stolen.

9. Increase wireless security. Following steps such as the following will help increase the security of a wireless router: use a strong encryption protocol available, change the router’s default administrator password and default service set identifier (SSID) – also known as the network name – and disable the Wi-Fi protected setup (WPS). Users should also reduce their wireless signal strength so that it doesn’t go beyond the perimeter of a home. Turning off the network when not in use is also a great way to increase wireless security.

10. Disable Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) when not needed. UPnP allows networked devices to seamlessly discover and establish communication with each other on the network. Althought it eases initial network configuration, it is also a security risk. Recent attacks have proved that malware within a network can use UPnP to bypass the router’s firewall, allow attackers to take control of the devices remotely and spread malware to other devices.

Keeping your home network secure with effective mitigation techniques is important. While listing ten techniques to help keep your network secure, there are several more including upgrading firmware, disabling remote management, monitoring device connections and removing them if unknown, as well as mitigating email threats.

If you think a scammer has your information, like your Social Security number, credit card or bank account, go to identitytheft.gov. There you’ll see specific steps to take based on the information you lost.