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VG Tuesday Tips: 6 Things You Should Do When Spring Cleaning Your Network

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Spring’s here, and you know what that means. Pollen and allergies. Lots and lots of allergies. But also spring cleaning.

While there’s not much we can do for allergies, we do have some timely spring cleaning advice for your network. Here are six ways you can give your home network and all of your devices a virtual cleaning and update.

Update and Create Stronger Passwords

You probably already know that using 123456 or even password as the password for any of your devices is incredibly weak. It’s essentially the same as using a piece of rope to keep your front door locked. But what you might not know is that you should update your passwords every now and then, too.

Credit breaches today can include hundreds of millions of users, including their passwords and other personal information. Although you can’t change your address or social security number without a lot of paperwork and personal sacrifice, you can update your password pretty easily.

When you do, make sure you create a strong and unique password for each of your accounts. If you don’t know where to start, the good folks over at McAfee have advice you’re free to use.

Set Up Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

No matter how strong your password is, there’s always a chance that it will be leaked during a security breach. Not only that but anywhere from “12 to 25 percent of [phishing] attacks successfully yield a valid password” to the attacker.

Even with that password, it will be harder for them to break into any of your accounts with two-factor authentication—or 2FA. With 2FA, once you enter the username and password for an account, you will be asked to verify your identity, usually through a code sent to your phone.

Although it will take you a few seconds longer to log in to your bank account and check your balance, it will also help keep all of those millions of dollars you do have from being stolen. So there’s that.

Back That Data Up

Before computers, if you wanted to show an embarrassing photo of your dad on vacation, you’d have to dig through boxes of dusty photo albums in storage for three hours before giving up, shrugging your shoulders, and saying, “Guess you had to be there.” Now you can whip out a phone and have people endlessly laughing at your dad’s gaff in a matter of seconds.

Unfortunately a power surge, fire, hard drive failure, security breach, or enraged father can wipe out all of your photos—and important files—in the same amount of time.

Keep them safe by backing them up to a cloud service or a backup drive. (You can even connect the hard drive to your router so you can easily access it from anywhere.) Make sure you consider all of the devices you have in your home, including laptops, desktops, tablets, smartphones, music players, video players, and anything else that contains video, image, or data files you want to save.

It might take some time to back all of it up, but it will be worth it when you still have that embarrassing photo of your dad from that one time on vacation he wishes everyone would forget.

Update Operating Systems, Firmware, and Security

While you’re backing up the data on your devices, you should also take a look at their operating systems, firmware, and/or security measures. (This includes your Wi-Fi router!) These often serve as the first line of defense against any attacks. They also help keep them running smoothly.

Unfortunately, while many people have antivirus and other security measures for their computers, they don’t have them for the tablets, smartphones, and smart devices. While you can install antivirus and security protection on smartphones and tablets, you can’t install them on many of your smart devices.

That’s where a router with antivirus built into it can help. Look for one with antivirus [Add link to D-Fend when available] that you can also download onto any of the devices that you take outside your home and provides parental controls.

Check out Your Accounts’ Permissions and Settings

When you sign up for a service—especially a free service—you’re usually volunteering some of your information. Social media accounts and other services let you know this with those lengthy contracts that you always (pretend you) read before clicking accept.

Some people don’t care about what information they share with the rest of the world but, for those who do, it’s worth taking a look at your privacy and share settings.

At the end of the day, maybe you don’t care who can see what you post on your profile. That’s up to you. But if you do care, now’s the time to take a look at your privacy and sharing settings.

Check On Your Router

We recommend upgrading your router every few years, as newer technologies come out that make Wi-Fi faster and provide better coverage. They also come with newer technologies that provide the latest security features.

But, if you just got your router and it’s running fine, there are still some things you can do to make it safer, such as update both the admin username and password for your router and Wi-Fi name.

While you’re at it, make sure you update the firmware we talked about earlier. You should also get into your QoS settings and optimize your Wi-Fi, and determine which devices you want to have the highest priority on your network.

Once you’re done with that—and everything else on this list—you’re free to sit back and enjoy a better network while you avoid cleaning the rest of your house.