Home-Based Workers Need Secure Networks, Too

Easy-to-deploy firewalls could be the answer to sketchy home network security

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09/17/2021

Jamie Bsales

 

Protecting home networks from attack unexpectedly became a top priority for IT personnel as knowledge workers suddenly found themselves part of a remote workforce. In many cases, kludged-together workflows meant that company data and documents were leaving the (relatively) safe confines of the corporate network for the Wild West of employees’ home networks. Compounding the issue, statistics showed that security threats were on the rise as the workforce went remote. The 2020 Internet Crime Report from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center revealed a 70% increase in cybercrimes from 2019 to 2020, with a continued rise throughout 2021.

 

Once they found their footing, many IT departments were able to roll out more permanent solutions such as VPNs (virtual private networks). Unfortunately, many other companies don’t have the IT wherewithal to do so, which means home-based workers are still relying on the default security of their rented Wi-Fi routers. And the issue is not going away anytime soon: According to a Keypoint Intelligence study, 31% of knowledge workers will work from home at least part of the time even after it is safe to return to the office. Moreover, respondents to our 2020 IT Decision Maker Survey reported numerous security concerns related to home-based workers when asked, “What are the biggest security risks for your company with an increase in remote workforce?”, including less-secure home-based devices accessing company data and company data leaving the corporate firewall.

 

Source: Keypoint Intelligence 2020 IT Decision Maker Survey

 

Fortunately, there is an answer. Several companies offer easy-to-deploy firewalls that don’t require IT network training to set up and use. One example is Firewalla, a start-up that offers a range of home firewall solutions. Founder and product developer Jerry Chen first realized the need for such a product when he noticed his nanny-cam panning its view, seemingly on its own. A Cisco alum, he had the smarts (and equipment) to hook up a corporate-caliber router and noticed I/O traffic that was coming from outside his network. He realized other home users could benefit from this level of visibility and control that most home routers just didn’t offer. Firewalla’s products, which start at $119, offer features that include intrusion detection that can alert you of anomalous traffic, the ability to see I/O traffic flow, and controls to block or limit site access.

 

Another player, Gryphon, offers Gryphon AX: a simple-to-use, next-generation firewall (NGFW) in the form of a mesh Wi-Fi router. It protects any IoT (Internet of Things) devices connected to your network, including security system, cameras, smart speakers, and video doorbells from hackers. This “digital gatekeeper” aims to thwart the most common online threats such as malware, ransomware, and digital intrusions. Gryphon AX is cloud-managed and powered by machine learning, so its protection evolves based on your usage habits and any attempted hacks. Products in the Gryphon family start at $99.

 

Home-based workers and even small business could benefit from the protection such products provide. If you are concerned about network security—and if you aren’t, you should be—these could deliver the right balance of protection and ease-of-use.

 

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