Digital security tip: Secure your home network before connecting tech gifts

This holiday season, many of us will likely receive new devices as presents. While tech toys are fun and open a host of possibilities to each of us, they are also a potential window into our homes and lives.

For example, with very few exceptions, you will connect new devices to your home network. Often, we take this connectivity for granted because connecting to a network — any network — has become second nature, especially at home where we expect things to work with as little friction as possible. It should be easy! Which means it also might be easy for criminals, too.

Why should you care? No one is interested in a home network … or are they? Yes, cybercriminals are interested in all networks for a variety of malicious reasons. And now that many of us work and learn from home, attacks and vulnerabilities on your network could affect not only you but the university.

The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) provides excellent awareness guidance on home network security. I encourage you to take some time to improve the security of your home network to protect you, your family and friends, and the university. Some measures that CISA recommends include:

  • Enable or install a firewall on your home network AND your devices (e.g., Windows or Apple computers).
  • Change the default username and password on your wireless access point, network firewall, and modem/router. (Note: Sometimes your wireless access point is part of or built into your modem/router.)
  • Use the WPA2-PSK [AES] or WPA3-PSK [AES] protocol on your wireless network.
  • Update the firmware on your wireless access point, network firewall, and modem/router.
  • Disable remote management on your wireless access point, network firewall, and modem/router.

While this may seem daunting, a small amount of prevention will keep you safer and your holiday season more enjoyable.


Some additional online resources to help you secure your home network: