As 2021 dawned, nearly half (43%) of American adults planned to make resolutions. But while the majority said they would focus on exercise and self-care, there's another area of our lives that's just as crucial: the health and security of our home WiFi networks. That's especially true now that many of us are now spending inordinate amounts of time at home (and may be for the foreseeable future). But where do you start when turning over a new leaf for a healthy home network? We've put together four key resolutions to help you become your best WiFi self in 2021.
1. I will monitor screen time intentionally
We know, limiting screen time is tough. And if you're working from home (or have kids attending school from home) this can feel like an impossible task. But here are a few resolutions you can make. First, get a sense of your personal habits. Most devices have tools built in that allow you to check your daily, weekly, and monthly screen time—use them to know exactly how, and how much, you're using your devices. Second: every time you use technology, try to be intentional about it. Mindless scrolling and reflexively checking email are habits worth breaking this year. And finally, try customizing your notifications. The alerts you get on your smartphone or laptop are entirely up to you, so refine your settings to limit alerts to important communications only.
2. I will check—and secure—my WiFi router
It can be easy to forget about the lowly router once your WiFi network is up and running—this is a mistake. By far the most common way of hacking a home network is by cracking passwords, made easier when the user hasn't changed the default password of their router. So make this the year that you change your router's default credentials and protect your network with a robust password that you recycle frequently. And if it's been a while since you updated your router, it might be time to get yourself a secure router that the manufacturer auto-updates often.
3. I will limit access to my WiFi network
When we think about limiting internet access, we tend to think first about limits for children. Good parental controls should, of course, allow you to limit how long your kids spend online and the websites that they visit. But what about limits for guests or guest devices? While you may not be having guests over that often these days, there are still times when your own family may be logging on with outside devices, such as school laptops or work-provided smartphones. And since we hope life will open back up at some point this year, your friends and guests may soon be asking you for your WiFi password again. Consider using a service that will let you limit WiFi access and block some activity completely, while making sure outside devices don't introduce viruses or malware. Another idea: set up your network so you can provide unique guest access, with every user getting their own password. This will allow you to determine what level of access each visitor gets, and turn off access completely after a set period of time.
4. I will evaluate my IoT devices' access
Internet of Things (IoT) devices are taking your home by storm, and you may have dozens that access the internet without a browser. Examples of IoT devices include voice assistants such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home, Ring doorbells, connected lights, smoke detectors, televisions, and thermostats. In fact, a June 2019 report from International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that there will be 41.6 billion connected IoT devices, or "things," generating 79.4 zettabytes (ZB) of data in 2025. What does this mean when it comes to security? Well, when IoT device security is not properly configured or managed it can allow hackers a direct entry into your router, giving bad actors access to everything else on your home network. One of the biggest problems is that, unlike a computer, IoT devices can't be protected by antivirus software or monitoring services. In addition, the rudimentary security that's built in, such as password protection, just doesn't cut it. In many cases, people simply leave default passwords in place—and that's if they turn them on at all. If nothing else, update the passwords for your devices. Then think about upgrading to a cloud-based security service that can assess data from the whole network to quickly detect anomalies and quarantine any device that's been compromised.
Plume can help you stick to your resolutions
A system like HomePass you can help you protect the health and security of your home WiFi system and automate control of your connected devices, all via an app. You can create and manage a list of people and their devices, and easily see exactly which devices are accessing the internet. Use Control to assign guest passwords, monitor your kids' screen time and limit their access. Plus Guard, an AI-powered, always-on digital security service, will filter out suspicious activity, automatically quarantining devices that are behaving strangely. We can't help you with your health and wellness goals just yet, but we're working on it!