Fraud and Security

Top 10 Internet Safety Rules & What Not to Do Online

March 1, 2024

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, including:

  • Upgrade and update all equipment and software regularly, including routing devices
  • Exercise secure habits by backing up your data and disconnecting devices when connections are not needed
  • Limit administration to the internal network only


Recommendations for device security

Electronic computing devices, including computers, laptops, printers, mobile phones, tablets, security cameras, home appliances, cars, and other “Internet of Things” (IoT) devices must all be secured to reduce the risk of compromise. Most home entertainment and utility devices, such as home monitoring systems, baby monitors, IoT de-vices, smart devices, Blu-ray players, streaming video players, and video game consoles, are capable of accessing the Internet, recording audio, and/or capturing video. Implementing security measures can ensure these devices don’t become the weak link in your home protection.


Upgrade to a modern operating system and keep it up-to-date

The most recent version of any operating system (OS) contains security features not found in previous versions. Many of these security features are enabled by default and help prevent common attack vectors. Increase the difficulty for an adversary to gain privileged access by using the latest available and supported OS for desktops, laptops, and smart devices.


Secure routing devices and keep them up-to-date

Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) may provide a modem/router as part of your service contract. To maximize administrative control over the routing and wireless features of your home network, consider using a personally owned routing device that connects to the ISP-provided modem/router. In addition, use modern router features to create a separate wireless network for guests, for network separation from your more trusted and private devices.


Implement WPA3 or WPA2 on the wireless network

To keep your wireless communications confidential, ensure your person-al or ISP provided WAP is capable of Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 (WPA3). If you have devices on your network that do not support WPA3, you can select WPA2/3 instead. This allows newer devices to use the more secure method while still allowing older devices to connect to the network over WPA2.


Implement wireless network segmentation

Leverage network segmentation on your home network to keep your wireless communication secure. At a minimum, your wireless network should be segmented between your primary Wi-Fi, guest Wi-Fi, and IoT network. This segmentation keeps less secure devices from directly communicating with your more secure devices.


Employ firewall capabilities

Ensure that your personally owned routing device supports basic firewall capabilities. Verify that it includes network address translation (NAT) to prevent internal systems from being scanned through the network boundary.


Leverage security software

Leverage security software that provides layered defense via anti-virus, anti-phishing, anti-malware, safe browsing, and firewall capabilities. The security suite may be built into the operating system or available to install as a separate product on computers, laptops, and tablets.


Protect passwords

Ensure that passwords and answers to challenge questions are properly protected since they provide access to personal information. Passwords should be strong, unique for each account, and difficult to guess.


Safeguard against eavesdropping

Be aware that home assistants and smart devices have microphones and are listening to conversations, even when you are not actively engaging with the device. If compromised, the adversary can eavesdrop on conversations. Limit sensitive conversations when you are near baby monitors, audio recording toys, home assistants, and smart devices. Consider muting their microphones when not in use. For devices with cameras (e.g., laptops, monitoring devices and toys) cover cameras when you are not using them. Disconnect Internet access if a device is not commonly used but be sure to update it when you do use it.


Exercise secure user habits

To minimize ransomware risks, back up data on external drives or portable media. Disconnect and securely store external storage when not in use.



Source: U.S. Department of Defense

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