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NSA: How to Secure Your Home Network


The NSA has an excellent PDF pamphlet on how to secure a home or small business network. They give excellent advice.

The NSA has produced a good 9-page pdf pamphlet on how to secure your home network. Miscreants are attacking our home networks and using them to attack websites and for password cracking attacks. They also attack the computers that were protected by the router. We should take responsibility for them and the NSA provides shockingly good advice in a readable format.

It starts off:
Don't be a victim! Malicious cyber actors may leverage your home network to gain access to personal, private, and confidential information. Help protect yourself, your family, and your work by practicing cybersecurity-aware behaviors, observing some basic configuration guidelines, and implementing the following mitigations on your home
network ...
They are correct and they give great advice for both home users and small businesses.

Here are some of them. Some I strongly recommend and a few I hadn't thought of! But the whole PDF is worth reading. I've written about most of them many times before. The best one is probably here. I go through my recommended router settings and reasoning.

Router Recommendations

  • Update your router regularly. Routers are computers with operating systems. They get security flaws, those flaws are exploited and the routers become the tool for hackers to gain access to your network and to use against others. I write about this regularly, the latest was in March of 2023.
  • Back up your data (I recommend 3 copies in 2 places with 1 off-site).
  • Keep your computers and programs up to date. Besides Windows updates and updating your software when asked, I suggest using both Ninite Updater and Patch My PC monthly.
  • They think you are safer using your own modem and router instead of the one provided by your ISP!
  • Make sure you have a guest network for your guests and devices like TV streaming, vacuum cleaner, smart thermostat, etc. I explain this and other things in this article.
  • Add anti-virus, anti-malware safe browsing software to your devices.
  • Use a password manager. I wrote about password managers many times, but one article is from April 2021.
  • Schedule weekly reboots for your router, phones and computers! The point here is that some viruses live in memory and rebooting will flush them out. It'll also clear up some trash that can cause problems later.

Recommendations for Online Behavior

  • Avoid opening attachments or links from unsolicited emails. Exercise cyber hygiene; do not open unknown emails or click on their attachments or web links.
  • Never re-use a password. I wrote about this here.
  • Limit and be careful with how much information you post online.
  • Here's one I always recommend but hadn't expected the NSA to endorse. They say to answer fact-based security questions with false information so identity thieves can't find the answers online. But remember to record those answers in your password manager. It is hard to remember lies.
  • If you must use public WiFi, use a trusted VPN. An article about VPNs is here.

Here's One I Didn't Know About

Do not charge your devices in public charging stations. It seems that public charging places can be compromised to send malware to your phone. If you must use them, for instance you need to be able to charge at airports, then use a USB data blocker, they are only a few dollars. HowToGeek wrote an article about this.

Date: May 2023

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This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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