Better Secure WFH Networks by Putting IoT on a Separate Wi-Fi

Better Secure WFH Networks by Putting IoT on a Separate Wi-Fi

Work from home (WFH) is a normal part of the business world since the COVID pandemic. Companies that would never consider allowing employees to work from home before the pandemic, now acknowledge that they see benefits in lower costs and higher productivity with remote teams.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2016, just 4% of the Canadian workforce worked most of their hours from home. In January of 2021, that number jumped to 32% of Canadian employees working remotely from home most of the time. 

Companies are finding that this is going to be a permanent shift if they want to retain their workers. 80% of employees surveyed stated they would like to work at least half of the time from home even after the pandemic is over.

Remote and hybrid offices improve business continuity because it allows operations to continue from anywhere. However, it can be a challenge to those trying to keep company systems secure.

Nearly three-quarters (71%) of security experts say that since the pandemic began, there has been an increase in cybersecurity threats and data breaches. This is largely due to the fact that attackers are targeting remote workers and that the networks in those homes aren’t as secure as they should be.

Company data is now being transmitted through home networks, many of which are not as secure as they should be. Computers, tablets, and smartphones that access sensitive customer and corporate data are often sharing a Wi-Fi connection with less secure IoT devices (like Alexa voice assistants or smart appliances.)

One quick tip to add an additional layer of security is to have employees separate the “Internet of Things” (IoT) devices in their homes from devices used for work.

What’s Involved in Putting IoT on a Separate Home Network?

Separating IoT devices from work devices on a home network means having a guest network set up on the router. The guest network was initially designed by router manufacturers as a way that people could allow a guest in their home to have Wi-Fi access without needing to hand over the password of the Wi-Fi the family uses.

Just about all modern routers can add this second network. What this looks like once set up, is a completely different Wi-Fi access point coming from the home router.

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How is the Guest Network Set Up?

Each router will be slightly different, but for all, you will need to access the router administration panel to set up a guest network.

Once you’ve accessed that, look for an area to set up that second network. It’s usually called “guest network” in the router settings.

Give this new network a name and a strong password. 

Next, you’ll want to find your existing network and change that password while you’re still in the settings. This keeps your IoT devices from reconnecting to that network if they’re reset or turned off and back on.

Then, reconnect all your work devices and any other computers or smartphones that have access to sensitive data to the existing network using the new password. Connect all your IoT devices to the new guest network.

What Do IoT Devices Include?

IoT devices will include just about anything that is connected to the internet, other than your PC and mobile devices, which aren’t typically included in the IoT classification.

Some common home IoT devices are:

  • Doorbell cameras & IP security systems
  • Smart appliances
  • Smart lighting
  • Alexa, Google Home, or another voice assistant
  • Baby monitors
  • Smart smoke detectors
  • Roombas, or other smart vacuum cleaners

Why Does Putting IoT Devices On a Different Network Than Work Devices Improve Security?

IoT devices are notoriously less secure than other online devices, like computers and smartphones or tablets. Separating these easier-to-hack smart gadgets from your devices with access to business information and sensitive personal data improves home network security. Here are some of the reasons. 

IoT Has a Lack of Built-in Security

Many IoT devices lack proper firmware security. This makes these devices easier to breach. There’s also a lack of visibility for the user to know whether or not the device has been hacked.

For example, if you have an antivirus on your PC, you’ll get an alert if it detects malware. But if malware is injected into a smart appliance, you may not know until a hacker uses that IoT device to jump over to another device that uses the same Wi-Fi network. 

Poor Owner Security Practices

When people buy IoT devices they’re looking to plug them in and have them work. They don’t want to have to do a lot to use them. So, security updates may never be installed when they come out. Many owners also leave the default administrative login credentials without changing them. Hackers have a whole list of these.

Hackers Can’t See Devices on a Separate Network

Hackers use IoT devices as a gateway to computers and smartphones. IoT is easier to breach, so they breach that and then look for other devices on the same Wi-Fi network.

Often there are sharing features in IoT that allow it to easily interface with your PC and smartphone. But hackers can use these to do the opposite, access those sensitive devices from the IoT device.

When your computers and smartphones are on a different Wi-Fi network than IoT, a hacker won’t see them if they breach an IoT device. Thus, they can’t get to them in this way.

Get Help from the Hybrid Office Security Experts

Haxxess has a team of hybrid office security experts that can help your Northern Ontario business put security in place for both office and WFH employees.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation! Call 705-222-8324 or reach out online.

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