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Tips and tools for home network security monitoring

Homes now have more connected devices, which could become targets for hackers. Consequently, work-from-home employees should take certain steps to safeguard their networks.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic drove a remarkable pivot to remote work and distance learning for many enterprises and educational institutions. Virtually overnight, staff and students relied on their home networks for work and school. But, in too many cases, organizations failed to take adequate steps to protect the newly remote end users' home network resources. As a result, home network security monitoring has become a trending topic.

In many cases, home networks today consist of more than just laptops. Everything from thermostats and smart speakers to refrigerators are connected to the internet. A 2019 survey by the consulting firm Deloitte found that the average U.S. household has 11 connected devices.

These are attractive targets for hackers who can work their way into the home network through any potential openings in these devices. With many workers on stay-at-home orders and more learning taking place remotely, employers and employees should be proactive about home network security monitoring.

Tracking devices and internet activity

Consumers have several home network security monitoring options, including free or relatively low-cost services that alert users to serious threats and deflect attacks.

But end users should also take other steps to safeguard their home networks -- starting with changing the default network name on their router. This simple step will stop cyber attackers from identifying the make and model number of the router. With this information, attackers can uncover known vulnerabilities that they can exploit.

End users should also set up a strong password. To ensure the password is difficult to hack, use a mix of capital and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. Also, consider using a password generator to make sure the home network is secure.

Consumers can also use a firewall to block threats, but they are not enough. Home network security monitoring services rely on cognitive technology, including machine learning, to identify potentially dangerous traffic devices. These services, which are delivered through an ISP, track the devices on the home network and malicious internet domains. Home network monitoring services alert users to threats and can automatically block websites serving up malicious content.

End users can set up their own policies to prevent unauthorized sites or users from communicating with their devices. Home network monitoring services are typically affordable and charged on a monthly basis. Some are free with the purchase of a firewall or other security appliance.

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