As part of Cyber Security month, the Information Security team recently shared advice to help keep our Co-op data safe. And now they’ve put together some advice for securing your home networks, devices and data too:

Change your router’s default password

Your internet router is one of the main electronic devices in your home. It acts as your gateway to the internet, and often links many connected family devices together. This makes it an attractive target for hackers. Your router will usually have two passwords – one that protects the router’s settings and configuration, and the wifi password.

It’s very important to change the router’s default configuration password as these are often freely available online, and therefore one of the easiest ways for an attacker to access your home network. Check your router’s instruction manual on how to change this. 

Your wifi password is usually unique to your router, but you should change this as well, especially if it’s printed on the router.

Protect your ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT)

It’s possible that you use an ‘IoT’ device every day without realising.  An IoT item is any device connected to the internet that communicates with us, other applications and other devices.  

Baby monitors, security cameras, fitness trackers, virtual assistants like Alexa and Google Home all fall into this category. Make sure you choose the strongest security settings on every individual connected device you use. The device itself might not hold any sensitive information, but leaving them vulnerable could allow someone to break in and take control. If you don’t need to connect it, don’t.

Secure your accounts

If you’ve suddenly been logged out of your Facebook account recently, then chances are you’ve been part of the huge Facebook hack reported in the press. Facebook is still investigating, but if you use the same password across multiple accounts, or if you use a simple password, this is a good opportunity to strengthen your passwords.

A good rule is to use a passphrase – the longer the password, the better, as the attacker is likely to move on to an easier target. And if two-factor authentication (2FA) is available, use it. This protects your online accounts by adding an extra layer of security when logging in.

After you’ve enabled 2FA, you’ll need two pieces of information to access your accounts: your password and a unique code texted to your phone every time you try to login. Lots of companies offer this already, including Apple, Gmail, Facebook and Amazon.

Finally, if you see an option to ‘Log in using Facebook’ when you’re signing into other accounts, don’t use it. Always set up new account details to make sure that if your Facebook account is compromised, the attacker can’t access your other accounts as well.

If you have any questions or concerns, email the Information Security team:

Christina Shannon
Information Security Education and Awareness Manager

Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. Great Article Christina with very useful, simple and practical information for protecting your home and the devices that everybody is becoming more reliant on for everyday life.
    I would also recommend ensuring you have Anti-Virus/Anti-Malware software installed on your phone/tablet device and use at a minimum screen pattern, pin and/or finger print protection to unlock your device along with the 2FA mentioned above for logons to online applications. Ensure you install the updates for all your devices as this will reduce the risk of some cyber threats and exploits to gain access.
    The Information Security function in the Coop is always available to offer practical advice and support in this rapidly changing technology world, please use the email address in the article to contact us.

    • I’m not sure anti virus/malware software is a good idea on a phone or tablet. I’ve tried them before and they end up having the same effect on the device as a windows PC – they slow it down excessively. And I’ve managed for about 8 years without this software on my smart phones and tablets.

      My bank keeps telling me to install “rapport” software on my home computer. I did this before but it was a massive drain on resources so I uninstalled it. It was making my browsing experience very slow! Once I uninstalled it, it was like a brand new machine.

      • AV and Signature based detection systems will only detect those things that have already been detected, and can easily be bypassed by changing just a couple of bytes of the Malware.

        The most effective way of preventing malware. Look down for answer.

        Pen and paper.

        And not following instructions off the internet.

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