As more and more electronics become “smart,” it’s easy to have over a dozen devices connected to your home network. Anything from your PC to your phones and from video game consoles to refrigerators, almost everything has a network connection. Most of these connections are necessary and make the modern life convenient, but it is good security practice to be mindful of what is connected to your network and why.
Simple actions such as logging into your home router and checking what’s actively connected can help give you a lay of the land and see how many devices are on your network. Don’t be shocked if you see 10, 20, even 30+ devices connected to your network. Any device that can connect to the internet will be a separate entry on the list, from your phone to your washing machine. Most modern routers today can give devices nicknames, so if a device has a generic name, you can change it to something like “Kevin’s Laptop” or “Front Door Camera”.
If you want to dive further into the monitoring of your network, there are plenty of monitoring tools to choose from, both free and paid (although most free platforms take excessive configuration). These applications specific to network monitoring not only show what is connected, but also how much data they’re using for both download and upload. For some tools, you can drill down further to see which specific application is eating up all your bandwidth and you can then determine if that is normal or an abnormality.
As with anything, knowledge is key to making good security decisions. Knowing what is on your network, what it’s doing, and why it’s doing it, can help you troubleshoot issues as well as save you financially if you have a data cap or strict bandwidth usage policies. Spending a few minutes now to itemize your network inventory can save you hours of headaches later.
By Nicholas Mauer, Cyber Security Engineer