In the past, securing your home computer network was the responsibility of the experts who installed it, but today’s Internet users often install their own home networks. Some users may not know how to build in the protective measures necessary to prevent outsiders from snooping or worse, accessing their private information.

Because it’s extremely easy for anyone to download hacking software or “recipes” from the Internet, securing your home network is more important than ever, and it’s worth the effort to learn more about it.

Firewalls and Routers
The two main pieces of hardware that help provide security are firewalls and routers. A firewall is like a guard. It helps to prevent your neighbors from snooping and keeps hackers from using your computer to send out your personal information without your permission. It also helps you monitor data traffic between your network and the Internet. Make sure you turn on your firewall and choose an appropriate security setting.

If you use a wireless router, make sure you change the preset administrator password and create your own complex password. You should also enable encryption which will scramble the information you transmit making it unreadable to outsiders. Unless you secure your router, you’re vulnerable to people accessing information on your computer, using your Internet service for free, or potentially using your network to commit cybercrimes.

Anti-virus and Anti-malware Software
Along with careful Web surfing habits, anti-virus and anti-malware programs can help keep your computer safe. Anti-virus software finds and removes viruses from your computer by comparing the applications on your computer against a huge database of known threats.

Anti-malware software is a complementary but essential program which detects and removes zero-day malware and “malware in the wild” including malicious programs and files that many anti-virus programs do not detect or cannot fully remove. Anti-malware should not replace anti-virus software; rather it should run alongside it for complete protection.

With the right tools and knowledge, you can have the confidence that family members can use the Internet safely and securely and minimize your chances of having your security compromised.