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When you’re renting, you might think that sharing internet with other tenants in your building is an added bonus. But sharing an internet connection can put your home network security at risk. According to the Federal Trade Commission, if you don’t take precautions, strangers can gain access to your personal information or devices. And if an authorized person uses your WiFi network to commit a crime, it can potentially be traced back to you. As you create your network in your apartment, here are five things you can do to ensure your home network is safe.
Just because your landlord offers service in the apartment complex, that doesn’t mean you can’t install your own. If your lease allows it and you can afford the extra expense, a private connection no one but you can access would likely be more secure. Keep in mind is that the “included” internet is probably baked into your rent. So if you do decide to install your own internet service, speak with your landlord to ensure you’re not paying for included service in addition to your own.
For the ultimate in-home network security on your WiFi (also written as Wi-Fi) network, consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Your landlord may provide an Ethernet connection instead of a WiFi signal, and if you want to add your own wireless access, you’ll need to plug in a WiFi router. This is an easy way to increase your home network security. You’ll want to protect your apartment’s WiFi with a firewall, which is designed to protect you from external attacks. Most WiFi routers have some basic firewall capabilities built in, but you should consider adding additional firewall protection from a program like ZoneAlarm Free Firewall or Kaspersky Internet Security.
One of the easiest ways to beef up your security without spending a penny is to change your internet habits, such as only using secure websites. You can make sure a site is secure by checking the URL in the address bar at the top of the browser window. Make sure the websites you visit start with https:// (notice the extra “s”) rather than just http:// to ensure your data stays encrypted. If someone is monitoring your traffic through a shared internet connection, they will be able to see what sites you’re visiting, but if the site is secure, they won’t know what happens once you get there.
Your email service should use a protocol known as Secure Socket Layer/Transport Socket Layer (SSL/TSL). Many email providers use SSL/TSL connections these days, but if you’re in doubt, call their tech support line and ask. You can also use Gmail, which uses a combination of secure https:// connections and SSL.
For the ultimate in-home network security on your WiFi network, consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is software used to connect to the internet that fully encrypts your incoming and outgoing data. It also connects you anonymously to a bank of servers on the internet so your activities aren’t traced or monitored. VPNs are easy to use, though they’re usually offered through paid subscription services. Some of the most common VPNs include NordVPN and IPVanish.
Remember, before moving into a new apartment, be sure to speak to your landlord/property manager about which utilities are included. Whether internet services are included or not, opt for keeping your personal information as safe as possible.