Enterprise IT Techniques at Home

By April 29, 2016 Cybersecurity

Even though your home network is not a corporate network you are still at risk for cyber crime and attacks. Whether it is a crypto virus locking up your family photos or attackers stealing your payment information, there are real reasons to want to protect your home network. Jeremy went into it a bit in our last blog about network segmentation. While this is just one thing you can perform as a home network protector, there are other steps you can take to ensure you are doing the best you can to keep your family’s information safe.  Some of these items are easy for the even the most stark tech novices out there, while others dig a bit deeper and call for some tech savvy skills and thirst for knowledge.

  • User Awareness – There is a reason why your company has these “annoying” policies about using the Internet. If they didn’t block non-business content and allowed people to surf anywhere they want on the web, a company’s attack surface would dramatically increase. At home, you don’t need to necessarily go that far per se, but you need to get to the crux of why this is done — protecting your users from themselves.  User awareness education applies at your home. Talk about proper browsing, email etiquette, and other connected activities with your family.  Model good behavior.  Don’t assume they know right from wrong!  If you receive an email that you aren’t expecting and it contains a link, don’t just click on it. When someone reposts a link on Facebook, look at the URL before clicking on it.  Ask yourself all the time, “Is that something that looks safe or familiar?”
  • Content Filtering – Consider web and mail content filtering solutions.  If you’re not running gmail, outlook, or one of the other big providers for your mail, put a mail content filter in the way to cut the spam.  If you have kids at home, consider some kind of web content filtering.  This can be a commercial “net nanny” type service, or simply configure a DNS black hole for the bad sites you don’t want them visiting.  Don’t worry…  You can always leave yourself a configuration back door that you can get through if you want.  Just be careful.
  • Patching – A big advantage a home network has over a corporate network is that most home networks can have their machines patched with a fair bit of certainty they won’t cost money if something goes wrong (which rarely happens, btw…). Many corporations do a lot of testing to make sure their customer-facing applications and internal systems can run with the latest updates.  This often necessarily leads to a lot of time between patch release and patch implementation… if patching happens at all. These patches contain fixes for recently found exploits!  They are not optional!  Make sure that all of your PCs, laptops, and phones have the latest available patches and software applied.  Make it automatic if you can.  And check to make sure your printers and other IoT devices have the latest firmware. Establish a schedule to check for patches and firmware updates regularly, and stick to it!
  • Home Intrusion Detection System – I’ll admit, this one is on a higher rung on the tech-savvy rating ladder, but it isn’t a bad idea if you have the time and like tinkering. Buying a managed switch and using an old computer or laptop is all you need to get started so the barrier-to-entry related to money is low.  Learn Snort.  You’ll have fun and be WAY safer.

By using some tech enthusiasm and shrugging off the fear of mistakes you can end up in a far safer stance at home.  Oh, and you’ll also be learning a lot of new technologies and techniques you may not get to try at work at the same time. A more connected world has made a lot of things in life easier for us but we need to be mindful of the new challenges introduced in our every-changing digital world.

Frank Urbanski

Author Frank Urbanski

Frank has worked for 8+ years as a Software and Cyber Security Engineer within the defense industry. At Alpine Cyber Solutions Frank oversees the Managed Security Services line of business. He has his passions set on Incident Response and Threat Management.

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