If you’re a PC user you’d never think of going onto the internet without first installing an antivirus software package. If you’re a Mac user you’ve been spared this hassle, although some pundits suggest that Macs need protection too, it’s never been an issue that has been taken too seriously.
But it’s becoming increasingly important, as people use their broadband for services other than surfing the internet that you get not only your computer, but your whole home wifi network protected, indeed, even when you’re using a Mac.
Because there are so many devices, including lightbulbs, CCTV, ovens and fridges which use a wifi connection to communicate with one another a comprehensive solution is required. It’s simply not possible to install a suite of malware, Trojan and virus protection on the chip that turns your lightbulb on and off so it’s vital that you protect your network at source, by installing antivirus on your PC and router. Installing antivirus on your router is almost as easy as it is on your computer, it simply needs following a few additional steps. Depending on the device you use it’s most likely to mean plugging the computer into the router via an Ethernet cable (which would have come in the router’s packaging when it was bought), downloading the software from a reliable source, and saving it in the place directed by the setup wizard.
Stay Up To Date With Updates
Once you’ve done this, sign up for the router’s manufacturer’s newsletter. You may get a little marketing but thanks to the GDRP laws this should be minimal, however, you will get updates concerning any new software or patches you might need to keep your router running safely.
While you’re installing antivirus it’s also worth taking the time to install ad blocking and popup blocking software too.
Once you install advertising blockers you’ll wonder how you ever coped without it! If you’ve ever gone to a page and had the content jump around as hundreds of ads all load at different speeds, or had problems even seeing a page because there’s an ad concealing it, or had to sit through completely irrelevant ads before the start of every single thing you want to see on Youtube then ad blockers are a complete game changer. And because many of the viruses get onto your computer through ads and popups in the first place, they’re an excellent way of protecting yourself from installing viruses and malware yourself which, because you were tricked into giving permission, antivirus software may not be able to consistently guard against.
Only Download Software From Trusted Sources
This is another reason why it’s important to sign up for manufacturer’s newsletters. You may see an item that looks like a legitimate warning concerning software breaches, but unless it comes from a trusted source, ie the people who built the device in question, there’s always the chance that it’s a clever trick to get you to download and install malicious software.
You may be wondering why it’s important to protect your smart home network from viruses. So long as your computer is clear they can’t get into your online accounts and start doing any harm right?
At the very least malware can make systems run slowly by taking up memory which is needed to carry out other tasks. And because you can’t just ‘Ctrl, Alt, Delete’ and stop them running, you need antivirus software to protect your network. But that’s the very least unwanted, unwelcome malware can do to your system. If you can imagine a scenario where your data, online credentials and security access are vulnerable, you can guarantee there is someone somewhere developing software to take advantage of it. Viruses can slow down or stop programmes and functions you need from working, which is bad enough when you have a lot of expensive software on your computer, but if that virus can also stop your fire alarms, CCTV or other security devices from working then that can have serious real world consequences. Viruses can collect and store data, such as credit card details which they then make available to hackers. Your card details, name and address can then be sold on for a few pence to criminal organisations all over the world. These gangs buy up thousands of victims’ details at a time, knowing that only a tiny percentage are viable, but if yours happens to be one of the ones that works, it could cost you thousands of pounds before you discover that you’ve even been a victim.
So what steps can you take to ensure that you’re not one of the millions of people each year who have their details published, computers ruined, or privacy violated each year?
- First of all, install the most up to date antivirus software available. Most of it is free, but the fee based services are far more robust, delivering faster updates against the latest viruses, while offering guarantees and support if ever needed.
- Implement two step verification. This is where you have not only a password you remember, but a new code sent via SMS every time you want to add or change apps or devices. This insures that nobody can hack into your network and install their own software.
- If you log into your computer as the Administrator, stop doing that right now. When you log in and stay logged in as the Administrator anybody who gets access to your machine will be able to take complete control. Instead, set yourself up a user account and use that for all your day-to-day tasks, only logging in as Admin when you need to make changes, and logging out again when you’re done.
- Put all of your IoT devices on a guest network. This won’t affect their function in any way whatsoever, they’ll still work perfectly well, but if they’re on a different network from the one you use to get access to the internet, do your banking, pay bills et cetera, then there is no way for anyone to install software on a Smart Device which can then connect to the world wide web.
- Always set long, complex passwords for all of your devices and use names which identify them clearly, but pass on no additional details. For example, don’t call your broadband account anything that can link it with your family, your address, or the router manufacturer, as all these details give too much potential data to those who can use this kind of detail to get access to your network, and even your home.