A simples guide

Is my broadband connection secure?

If you’re old enough to remember dial up, you’ll recall that it certainly wasn’t what you’d call convenient. Firstly, you couldn’t use it if someone else was on the phone and when you did use it, it would take a few minutes of whirring and clicking to even connect.

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Broadband security

One thing to be said for dial up though, was that it was relatively secure compared to broadband. The reason for this is that broadband, by its very nature is always switched on.

If your PC is turned on along with your router, you’re always connected to the internet and from a hacker’s point of view, open for business.

Broadband brings huge benefits to everyday life. It’s faster, more stable, immediately available and with the addition of Wi-Fi, available on the move around your property or surrounding area.

Wi-Fi though, brings an extra vulnerability to our networks by giving those nearby the ability to see it.

If this all sounds a bit worrying, you’ll be pleased to hear that you can keep your network safer with some common sense behaviour.

Passwords, passwords, passwords

It’s one thing for a hacker to see your network or broadband port and quite another for them to gain access. That is of course if you practice good password security.

Take a moment and consider the passwords that you have on your Wi-Fi network, your PC, devices, your email and so on. Are they really as secure as they could be?

Don’t use names, obvious dates or words such as “admin” or “password”. Many applications and websites will now force you to use a combination of lower and uppercase letters, numbers and symbols. This might sometimes feel inconvenient but it makes the passwords much more secure.

Be wary of handing over any passwords too. Sure, you’re likely to let your visiting friends onto your network, but be wary of sharing it with external companies as this should rarely be required.

Wi-Fi name

Don’t advertise your Wi-Fi network by naming it your house and street number or your name. If you do have a hacker looking for a vulnerable network, you don’t really want to advertise who you are and where you live.

Better to pick a random combination of letters or numbers that mean nothing to anyone but you.

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WEP/WPA Keys

In your router security settings, you’ll typically have three options, open, WEP and WPA.

Open, from a security point of view, means what it says and shouldn’t be selected. WEP which means Wired Equivalence Privacy should also be avoided if possible, as most internet hackers can break in in only a matter of seconds.

Better to use WPA (Wireless Protected Access) or the latest standard WPA2, which provide some level of encryption to your network, making it much harder to access.

Restricting your Wi-Fi network

If you live in a block of flats or in an apartment, it is common for you to be able to see many different Wi-Fi networks while sitting on your own settee. If you’re concerned about who can see your network even after applying password controls, it may be possible to reduce the range of your home network by restricting the power input to the router.

It’s worth checking your specific routers instructions before trying this.

Firewalls / Anti-virus

Simplistically, a firewall is software or hardware that checks information coming to your PC from the internet and decides whether it can be trusted or not.

Using a firewall helps prevent unauthorised access to your broadband network. Most operating systems such as Windows already have a firewall installed but there is nothing to stop you adding further security if you so wish.

A firewall is not the same thing as anti-virus software. Anti-virus programs scan your system and network for any unauthorised code or programs that may have been maliciously planted there. New viruses are created by hackers all the time so it is important to keep anti-virus software updated to ensure you have all the latest fixes included.

In short, you need your firewall and anti-virus installed and active.

Be neither complacent nor paranoid

Hackers are, in many ways like common thieves. They look for the areas of easiest opportunity. In the same way as you wouldn’t leave your front door wide open at night, don’t leave your network wide open either.

Hackers are unlikely to target you specifically. They do sweeps of networks and PC’s looking for vulnerabilities. With common sense and sensible precautions, you can help minimise the risks and keep your broadband connection secure.

If you’re unsure or need further help contact your broadband provider and see how they can help you improve your broadband security. If you want to compare broadband and fibre prices, use our comparison service where you can compare deals in a few minutes.