Working from Home? Use This Security Tip to Reduce IoT Risk

Working from Home? Use This Security Tip to Reduce IoT Risk

Business network security has gone through a major transition over the last two years. Rather than the “network” being contained in a single building, as was the case for most businesses before the pandemic, it’s now extended out to employee homes.

As of February 2022, 39% of employees that had positions compatible with remote work were working from home full time and 42% were working a hybrid schedule. Only19% were in the office full time. 

When you’re working from home, it places a lot of security burden on your home network. Business data, sensitive customer information, and logins to cloud tools are now being transmitted through your home Wi-Fi.

While you may have a strong password on your wireless router, other vulnerabilities could leave you susceptible to a breach. These vulnerabilities are your IoT (internet of things) devices.

The number of smart gadgets is multiplying rapidly for homeowners. First, you have an Alexa voice speaker, then you add a doorbell camera. Before you know it, your refrigerator and coffee maker are both “smart” and connected to the internet.

The average household has 25 internet-connected devices, more than double the number in 2019. 

The problem with all these IoT devices sharing a network that is now used for company data is that they typically have far less security than PCs and mobile devices.

A recent warning by the FBI notes that these devices should be put in a separate network from computers and smartphones. 

The Portland FBI Office stated in its weekly tech advice column, “Your fridge and your laptop should not be on the same network.” It went on to add, “Keep your most private, sensitive data on a separate system from your other IoT devices.”

Why You Should Put Your IoT Devices on a Guest Network

One way that you can reduce the risk of a breach or malware infection for your devices that hold more sensitive data is to move them away from your IoT gadgets. Adding a guest network to your router and putting smart devices on that, will add an important layer of separation that can increase your home network security.

Here are some of the key reasons to separate your PC and smartphone from IoT devices. 

IoT Devices Are Typically Less Secure

During the first half of 2021, there were over 1.5 billion IoT breaches. These devices tend to be much less protected than computers, servers, and mobile devices. 

For example, they usually don’t have anti-malware. Nor do they offer the ability to add things like DNS filtering in most cases.

Another factor that makes IoT devices easier to hack is that users often leave the default username and password in place, making it simple for a criminal to get into the device. 

Another security risk of smart devices is that users tend to never check them for needed security updates. Thus, they may have a severe vulnerability for which a patch was released, but the owner never applied it.

IoT Devices Are “Gateway” Points for Hackers

If you have good security on your computers, such as an anti-malware app and DNS filtering tool, it’s harder for a hacker to infect your system with ransomware or a virus.

But IoT devices usually lack these things, so they’re easier to breach and then use as a gateway to other devices. Once one device on your wireless network is breached, it’s much easier for a hacker to breach a more secure device using the same network.

Smart gadgets typically have network sharing portals to make it possible to control them from your other technology. But this connection goes both ways.

Hackers Can’t Easily Jump Networks

When you place your IoT devices on a different Wi-Fi network than your computer and smartphone, you remove that bridge between devices that a hacker is using to move from one to another.

If your doorbell camera is breached, and the hacker looks at the list of connected devices looking for good targets, they won’t even be able to see any devices on your other Wi-Fi network.

This adds a barrier that the criminal can’t easily get past.

It’s Easy & Inexpensive to Do

It’s not difficult to use this tip to improve home network security. All you need to do is log into your router and look for the place to set up a “guest” network.

Name your network and add a strong password. Then, while you’re still in your router administration, change the password to your existing network. This keeps your IoT devices from automatically reconnecting to it.

When finished, you’ll have two networks available from your router.

Then put all your IoT devices on the new guest network, and reconnect your other devices (PCs, mobile devices) to the other network.

Need Easy Remote Team Security Solutions?

Quantum PC Services can help your Sturgeon Bay area home or business put smart home network security solutions in place to reduce your risk of a breach. 

Contact us today to learn more! Call 920-256-1214 or reach us online.