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Cyber Security

Top 5 Tips: Securing Your Connected Home From Cyber Threats

By Patti Loyack

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For consumers, the volume and complexity of cyber threats can seem overwhelming, especially given how many devices we have in our connected homes today.

Keeping the bad actors out of your devices and off your network does not have to be overwhelming — in fact, all it takes is a few simple practices. Just as you protect your physical home with a variety of security “layers” — locks, lights on timers, exterior lights with motion sensors, alarms and other things — you can similarly protect your virtual home network and the devices connected to it.

Here are some of our key tips on easy ways to do that.

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Use Multifactor Authentication
If available, always enable multifactor authentication, which allows websites or services to confirm your identity using a combination of two or three different factors – typically something you know (a password or challenge question), something you have (a unique, time-sensitive code sent to your mobile phone) or something you are (a fingerprint or facial recognition on your phone). While it adds an extra step to logging in, it’s a simple and easy way to protect your accounts and information.
 
 
 
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Enable Auto Updates on Devices
Since our smartphones are essentially an extension of ourselves at this point and we use our laptops or tablets each day, we are a lot better about responding to “system update” notifications right away. Updates often add new security features or patch holes, so they are critical to maintaining security. Most devices these days have a setting to enable “auto updates,” so they always have the latest firmware. Enable that setting whenever you set up a new device.
 
 
 
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Think Before You Click on That Link
Often people receive an email that seems to be from their bank, school, friend or family member, or other authority with some urgent need for their information. The emails can be very convincing. Take a minute, review the email and be on guard for irregularities. If you have any suspicions, trust your instincts. You may want to delete the email or reach out directly to the company to inquire about its legitimacy. Never click on unknown or suspicious links!

Here are three simple questions you can ask yourself to screen an email:


Number 1

Look carefully at emails that are not a direct response to something you requested – do you recognize the sender’s email address?

Number 2

Have you made an inquiry related to this email recently? If so, does the sender’s email address match the source you were expecting to respond to your request?

Number 3

Is there false urgency in the email? Do you really not have time to call the person requesting you to send money urgently?

 
 
 
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Broadband Connection Security
Just like you have a strong lock on your front door, for a hacker to get into your connected home, they need to come through its digital equivalent: the gateway device of your broadband connection. Talk to your ISP and see what security they offer for their broadband gateways. Comcast Internet customers with an xFi Gateway can simply log into the Xfinity app and they are automatically protected by xFi Advanced Security, providing a proactive barrier between their connected home and the “Wild West” of the Internet.
 
 
 
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Strong Passwords
Make sure to create distinct passwords for different services and websites you use. They should be hard for a hacker to guess if they are trying to use your public information (your name, address, etc.) or what you post on social media (names of pets or children, favorite sports teams, high school or college mascot, etc.). Always avoid generic passwords that are easy to guess and keep in mind that a long, simple, easy-to-remember phrase is a better password than a short, complex one.
Password examples
Always avoid generic passwords that are easy to guess and keep in mind that a long, simple, easy-to-remember phrase is a better password than a short, complex one.

From working at home, studying remotely and telemedicine check-ups, to streaming the latest Hollywood blockbusters and video calls with far-away relatives, connected homes are changing how we live, work and play — all at home in this “new normal.” Feel confident that you can do it securely by taking the steps we outlined and adding multiple layers of security to protect your connected home.


Patti Loyack is Vice President of Connectivity Services, Comcast


Read the full Report for more details
on how to protect yourself from Cyber Threats.

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