Securing unprotected devices

Unprotected devices such as routers, webcams, printers and phones can potentially allow unauthorised access to sensitive data such as passwords and credit-card information.

Adopt these practices to avoid falling victim to cyber crime.

GENERAL CYBER SECURITY TIPS

Change all default device login passwords as soon as possible after purchase.

Set strong passwords.

All passwords should be at least eight characters long and contain a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters, making them more difficult to crack. Avoid using the same passwords for multiple accounts, and change the passwords regularly. Never reveal personal information like passwords over e-mail.

Avoid clicking on suspicious- looking e-mails, websites, links or advertisements, and verify with the sender if unsure.

Uninstall any suspicious software or application immediately.

BEFORE PURCHASE

Buy devices from reputable manufacturers who value security and release device firmware patches. These patches improve product features, including security.

When buying online or from overseas, be wary of unbranded devices or offers that are too good to be true.

Check that the devices have in-built security measures, including password protection, to prevent others from accessing the device settings for malicious purposes.

Check that the wireless devices come with the latest in Wi-Fi security technology, such as Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2), to encrypt your Wi-Fi network and prevent others from tapping your connection.

AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AFTER PURCHASE

Pay special attention to the set- tings in Wi-Fi enabled devices such as wireless routers, wireless access points and power line adapters, as they are the bridge between the internet and home devices. StarHub maintains on its website a list of recommended wireless router models.

Change the SSID or network name from the default name.

Switch on the in-built firewalls as an extra layer of protection.

Install reputable security solutions to keep your computers free of viruses and malware.

DOWN THE ROAD

Perform regular software updates to keep your devices running optimally. Run regular scans using security software to keep viruses and malware at bay.

Manufacturers will often cease support for older devices, halting the issuing of software updates. It is a good practice to replace older devices with newer ones that come with better features and security, whenever possible.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2016, with the headline 'Securing unprotected devices'. Print Edition | Subscribe