In a world where technology plays a major role in people’s lives, it’s important for homes to accommodate the latest electronic devices. Many Lennar homes even come with USB outlets in the kitchen and master bedroom.
All the computers, tablets, cell phones and other digital devices that make our lives easier also bring cyber security risks. With October being Cyber Security Awareness Month, now is the perfect time to take a look at your home’s online security and make sure you’re following safe internet practices. Here are four helpful guidelines to creating a cyber-secure home:
1. Be aware of phone call and email scams
Online scammers have learned that the easiest way to trick someone into sharing personal information is to simply ask for it. Many people are fooled by a simple email or phone call from someone who claims to be a reputable company or someone they know. These misleading calls and emails often try to sell fake anti-virus software or gather account information to hack into personal profiles.
Be aware of these types of scams and to always do your research before responding to any messages that ask for personal information. One tip is to ask the caller or e-mailer for their contact information, which usually ends the exchange.
2. Secure your home network
Your Wi-Fi router is the device that controls who can connect to your home’s wireless network. Make sure your Wi-Fi connection is password secured, and change the default password to something that is unique to you.
Keep track of all the devices that connect to your Wi-Fi, including computers, phones, TVs, gaming systems, and even less obvious things like your programmable A/C thermostat or a baby monitor
3. Protect your electronic devices
Make sure all of the devices that connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network require a pin or passcode for access. It’s a good idea to have two computers at home – one for parents and one for kids. If you’re sharing a device, set up separate accounts so that kids do not have administrative privileges.
Above all, make sure all of your devices have a firewall and anti-virus system installed, enabled and updated to the latest version. When upgrading to the latest device, make sure the old one is wiped of any personal information by running a secure reset.
4. Create strong passwords
It’s likely you have a number of online accounts with passwords to remember. Using the same password for each account may put you at greater risk of a cyber attack. Create different passwords for your various accounts and use phrases with multiple words, numbers and characters.
Keep track of your passwords with a password manager to securely store your account information in an encrypted database. A password manager is an application that stores and organizes a user’s passwords, and requires one master password to access all of the others. Many password managers are available online for free.
Often, the best defense against risks to your cyber security is simply common sense. Stay smart when online and don’t fall for any tricks hackers use via social media, emails or phone calls. For more tips and resources on internet safety, visit the the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s website.