Securing Your Home Network – Basic Password Security

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It was rather unnerving to read last week, on the BBC web portal, an article highlighting a Russian-based website that allows access to thousands of live feeds to baby monitors, stand-alone webcams and CCTV systems running on IP-enabled networks across the world. This must be a worry for parents in particular – protecting children from the online dangers of the internet is always a key priority in today’s technology age, and stories such as these breaking on a national basis just open up ever more fear, uncertainty and doubt in their eyes.

Here at D-Link, we pride ourselves on the security of our devices – for example, our EyeOn Baby monitor, as well as other home solution webcam products – are all protected through strong security encryption techniques, whether they be over a wireless or wired connection. Likewise, operating these devices on a home network behind a D-Link router means that security is further enhanced through firewall protection on the router, preventing casual unauthorised access to the home network from such sites. And for additional protection for accessing D-Link devices externally over the internet, the mydlink application can give a user additional piece of mind when it comes to an extra layer of security.

But, ultimately, no amount of in-built, encrypted, expensively designed security feature can overcome one major security flaw in many a person’s technology network – that of the ‘it’s-so–so-easy-to-crack’ password. In my time, I cannot recall the number of occasions I’ve seen friends and colleagues get into their account using “password” or “pass” as their password. Or, even worse, leaving it blank – in case they forgot their password.

Now, let’s be honest, changing passwords regularly is a real pain. On top of that, you’ve then got to remember what you have changed it to. And if you can’t, it gets written down somewhere so you can remember it at a later time. Doh! And, for me, it doesn’t help that I now have several million sites (OK, a slight exaggeration, but it feels like this many) that I access on a regular basis. How on earth can you be expected to remember them all? So, yes, I sympathise. But only to an extent.

As a first step for those of you out there that use password, qwerty, abcdefg, 123456, or your favourite child’s name as the password to all of your accounts – please, please, please, take time to plug this gaping hole in your network security and help protect both your own and your family’s online safety. Password hacking software automatically checks for not only common words, phrases and names (either spelt correctly, incorrectly or even backwards) but also for sequences and nowadays even letter-to-symbol conversions and substitutions (for example, changing ‘and’ to ‘&’ or ‘to’ to ‘2’).

So here are a few basic tips for securing your passwords. Firstly, try and personalise seemingly ‘random’ combinations of lowercase, uppercase, numbers as a start at a minimum – you may want to incorporate, for example, some initials, a combination around your car registration number and post code as a part of your password – and build up a password system that will allow you to change and remember passwords on a regular basis – yet still look like a random set of numbers, letters and symbols. There are also a number of useful technical solutions out there also that will help make up, randomise and remember passwords for you – for example, Lastpass is worth a look for a free online password vault – but ultimately you will still need a good, secure password to access these utilities anyway.

As the BBC story illustrates, it’s time to start taking passwords seriously. You know it makes sense.

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