Common Sense Security Tips for Wired Networks
Folks with wired home networks are often pretty doggone smug about their computer security because a connection to your network can occur only over a wired port or over the Internet. (In other words, you don’t have to worry about broadcasting your address book across the street.)
First, the good news: If you are using the Windows 8 Firewall on each of your network PCs — or if you installed a third-party firewall application on each PC — you can be reasonably sure that your Internet connection is secure from The Bad Guys.
However, it’s still possible to be a little too complacent about your wired network’s security: Don’t forget that the seedy teenager next door might end up dating your kid and spending time within the comfortable confines of your own home.
Unless you can be absolutely certain that no one else has access to your wired network, it still pays to practice good network security policy!
With this Ultimate Truth in mind, here’s a common sense checklist you can follow to help keep your wired network as secure as possible:
Use the armed guards supplied with Windows 8. The moment you leave your PC unattended, you’re opening the door for anyone else to step up and use it. For this reason, use a screen saver with the password feature enabled, and always assign a password to every account you create.
Also, if security is an issue for your network, use the Windows 8 User Account Control (UAC) feature, which alerts you before running suspect applications or performing actions that could potentially harm your system.
You can make this setting from the Windows 8 Charms bar: Click Search and then click Settings. Type UAC into the Search box. Click the Change User Account Control Settings button to display the window you see here. Make sure that the Notify slider is set to either Always Notify (the first position) or the default (the second position). Click OK to save the change.
Don’t share passwords. Do you regularly swap your credit card numbers with friends and relatives? You should keep your login and screen saver passwords just as private.
Monitor your connections. If you’re using an Internet router or Internet sharing device, that device likely has a feature that enables you to see who’s connected to your network (typically as part of the DHCP commands).
Check your router’s documentation to see how you can monitor who’s connecting to it — and use this feature once a week or so, just to verify that the connections you see listed are the connections you expected to see. If you do encounter unwanted individuals who are using your wireless network, check your router’s documentation to see whether it enables you to block them from connecting again.
Unplug unnecessary computers. If a PC doesn’t need a connection to your network, why keep it connected at all? Your wired network runs faster with fewer machines, and disconnecting that PC frees up a port on your switch or router for future use.