The Perils of Home WiFi and simple improvements


Many of us now work from home, whether as a small business, freelancer or part of a larger organisation. If you do work for a larger organisation you probably have data security measures in place, along with a rulebook. If however you fall into the first two categories, then you may not have access to skills and knowledge to help you keep data safe. Apart from it making business sense to not have data leaking or being lost from your business, the various privacy laws of the EU and other countries do make it your responsibility.

This series of blogs offers some helpful and simple advice on some steps you can take to safeguard data. Remember that this advice represents reasonable steps and offers no guarantees. It is much like home security – you won’t stop the most determined of malefactors. If you hold sensitive or valuable data, then you should seek the advice of a professional.

Home WiFi

Most of us enjoy the benefits of WiFi networking at home. You may have also connected your TV, Sonos, iPad or other smart gadgets to the same Wi-Fi network. This brings functional benefits and let’s face it – it is fun to do.
Another aspect of WiFi is that everyone loves it as they love to be connected. Especially children in the house. And if your children have the password, it is pretty much given that so do any of their friends that visit.

The issue with this is that anyone with your WiFi password is now inside your network. This is much the same as plugging a network cable into your router and leaving the other end in the street for anyone to use, bypassing all of the firewall capabilities of your broadband router. Anyone inside your network can gain access to any data laying about – on your work PC or hard disk storage device.

People inside your network may have inadvertently installed data collection software on their own smartphone or similar device so loss of your data is not likely to be a deliberate act on the part of your guest or child.

The easiest way to help counter this (and it costs nothing) is to have two Wi-Fi networks in your house. It is much harder to get from one network to another. Most routers allow you to set up more than one Wi-Fi network, often called “guest network” or similar.

1. Set up a guest network and give the guest password to guests in your home.
2. Change the password for your main network, making sure your main password is not the same as the one on the label on the router (as anyone in the house can see this).
3. Allow access to your guest network to children, guests or TVs reserving your main network for your own use.

A word about Wi-Fi encryption:

Most routers offer a choice of encryption to be used. The encryption method used for your connection is set up when you connect your device to a router and are validated as a bona-fide user (normally by having a password or key). Most routers helpfully offer older encryption types to support for older devices, sometimes called WEP or Auto (sometimes called legacy support). WEP is an outdated and compromised encryption method. WPA2 is the current best encryption protocol and has been the default for devices for a while now. It’s predecessor WPA is also compromised.

Configure your router to only use WPA2 and see if anything stops working. If all is well leave it set to WPA2. Some routers are configured to Auto by default. Any device with the “WiFi Certified” logo made after 2006 will support WPA2

For advice on using public WiFi please see my next article: