CPU Security Flaws Highlight Why Securing Your Home Network is More Important than Ever Before
2018 is still young, but the PC industry has been rocked by processors having security flaws in them. First, Intel-powered devices had to worry about a problem that could allow remote access on a very basic level to your computer via the Meltdown issue. Then, AMD-powered systems had to worry about Spectre. Each operated in a different way, but still did the same thing – shined a bright light on the fact that just about any PC processor in use today has problems that can open the door to anyone gaining access to your PC.
This is also the era of the connected home and even a so-called average household could very easily have a dozen devices hooked up to a single wi-fi connection. A family of four will usually have at least a smartphone – so there are four devices there. Younger kids may have their own tablet – so we’ll give two kids a Fire tablet each. That brings us to six devices, while parents are more likely going to have higher-end tablets to conduct business – bringing us to eight. Those are just mobile computing solutions are right away, we have eight devices connecting to wi-fi. If everyone has their own computer, then we easily hit 12 without even factoring in things like smart voice assistants.
Adding a single voice assistant brings us to 13 devices being used by a wide range of people. The younger generation of users is going to be more inclined to know the household wi-fi password immediately, which brings about its own issues. A kid give that password to his friends while they’re using their own devices and possibly go to a site that not only damages the friend’s laptop – but also opens the door to anyone to get on that home network while they’re on it. A simple act like someone trying to hit up a torrent site for a movie so they can watch the latest film without paying for it could easily hurt the family – not only due to obvious piracy concerns, but with those sites possibly putting a trojan on a computer and then leading to that home network being vulnerable to attack.
Family wi-fi users tend to also make passwords that are easy to remember so that they don’t have to write it down – and that may be good in the short term, but it’s a terrible idea in the long run. If it’s easy to remember for the family, then it’s easy for the friend to remember and then give to more friends. A friend of a friend that you don’t even know having access to your wi-fi network is a very dangerous thing. Even if it’s just being used for legal thing, it’s going to slow down the family’s internet and possibly lead to them paying for a higher-tiered plan through a provider in order to make up for the now-reduced speeds they’re getting. Sometimes, it’s smart to swap out equipment to avoid rental fees from providers and sometimes, you simply need to upgrade your stuff to keep up with modern demands.
Playing games online while livestreaming on sites like Twitch can take a toll on a network – as can one family member doing that while someone else simply watches Netflix or Youtube. The network is naturally going to be strained without a high-end modem/router combination and many providers try to go with all in one units that save space – but cost users more money in the long run. A modem and router combination unit is going to be quite a bit less powerful than having them seprate – and while that does take up more space, you will get far more use out of what you’re paying for.
The Arris SB6141 is a solid option if you have a $50 budget to work with on a modem, while the Motorola MB7420 is a better overall device and dete4cts with channels are the most efficient in real-time. When it comes to routers, Netgear’s Nighthawk line is a go-to line and fairly powerful. A dual-band AC1900 will set you back around $180, while a tri-band AC3200 is $280. For an everage household, something like this should be able to handle someone megatasking while someone else streams music or movies and its ability to support up to 3.2 GBPS is excellent.
Making sure you secure your wi-fi password is key too. Changing it up every few months means that even if someone has access to it and is using it without you knowing, you can at least minimize the damage done. Old hardware makes it easy to figure out one reason behind your internet being slow. When it comes to processors, detecting problems in your system can be tough if you rely on just tools released by processor makers because those are going to be few and far between outside of software patches. Thankfully, when it comes to the Spectre and Meltdown issues, intreprid users have come up with something to help. InSpectre helps detect whether or not your processor has these security holes on it presently.
This tool is small and doesn’t require a full install – but can still determine whether or not you’re protected against either the Spectre or Meltdown exploits. It will run a test to determine if you are vulnerable to both Specre and Meltdown and tell you about the overall security status of your system. Thankfully, there aren’t any known Spectre or Meltdown exploits out there – but avoiding malware is a good idea so regularly run Malwarebytes and make use of anti-virus software as well. Running it at least once a week is a wise idea, and a better idea is to just run it overnight every night while you’re sleeping.
This is a very interesting time when it comes to internet security as so many people just think of it affecting their PCs, but with things being problematic with entire networks, you can wind up with a fleet of devices in your home being effectively useless due to a single mistake or exploit. The key is to stay vigilant and attempt to be one step ahead of anyone trying to access your network. Avoiding the same password for multiple sites is an easy way to do that and not saving your bank information to the browser is another good idea. The key is to be careful and minimize user error – because now, this is an era when the core hardware we’re using is vulnerable to problems that isn’t something people are going to generally think about when it comes to their day-to-day internet usage.