By Craig Blignaut, Wi-Fi Product Manager, Vox

Anybody born after the mid-1990s might find it hard to fathom, but mobile devices were never as omnipresent as they are today and there was a time when they were not even considered a threat in businesses and in our homes. Prior to the explosive entry of broadband and wireless technology into our offices and homes, stand-alone desktop computers were limited to Ethernet cables as their primary gateway access to either LAN or WAN for businesses and perhaps dial-up modems for home use – making them simpler to control in terms of protection against cyber threats.

Fast forward to today and consumer devices, be it Android, IOS or other has rapidly and radically changed this determination. In this age, we find ourselves enveloped by mobile technology, and by extension, working, schooling, entertainment and content consumption have all literally come home. Our very lives perhaps once quantified only in terms of physical and spiritual, now have a third element added…it’s the DIGITAL. And it is an aspect of our lives that has become somewhat governed by access to broadband connectivity, Wi-Fi and data availability…especially true for the young and the young at heart.

For work or play, we now perform more and more daily actions from our homes on our smartphones, laptops, smart televisions, gaming consoles and other connected appliances. This has meant that we’re constantly increasing the number of devices connected to our home broadband connections, and Wi-Fi throughout the house has made this a breeze. With an increased mobile device capability though, comes an increased vulnerability.

Another triggering component is the transforming networking environment that has increasingly picked up pace, especially over the past few years – home networks have become a part of organisations’ networks, and vice versa – aiding in the creation of new threats of malware and computer viruses.

With this trend, IT departments in organisations are obligated to upscale efforts to deal with threats that impact mobile devices that connect to their corporate network. There’s an old saying that goes, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, ” which lends itself well to the necessity that network security and protection be considered from the perspective of your home Wi-Fi network. This brings into question what households are doing to add a layer of protection.

Parents, or those that have little children and teens that are granted access to Wi-Fi in the home, need to be particularly concerned about Wi-Fi management, network security and parental control. Children, in most families, can tend to be unobservant and negligent in terms of their online activity while, at the same time, being deliberately discreet and guarded when online access and behaviour are interrogated. Children, in this connected age, are also quite computer literate.  Chances are high that your children use different browsers and websites than you and their chat programs are often linked to gaming sites.  This makes it difficult for you to monitor and develop an awareness of their online activity.

Having a plan when it comes to Wi-Fi management in your home is, therefore, an imperative that will help you control data spend and protect vulnerable entry into your home network.

What’s widely available currently, for harnessing some control in your home network, is time-based scheduling options – available to parents through Apps. These may be specific to operating systems or through complicated router configuration settings.  Some of these solutions only inform parents of websites that have been visited…after the fact. This historical view is limited to allowing you the opportunity to block specific websites for specific devices in the future but will do little to prevent any harm that has been done in the first place.

The internet is vast, connecting millions and billions of people and devices. At some point, it became impossible for us humans to manage and police our children’s online activities.  This is where reliable software and AI can play a role. Going far beyond simply managing screen time and displaying where your child has been on the World Wide Web, similar to Internet Security and antivirus software which monitors, detects and prevents access to malware and virus attacks in the background, it can enable enhanced control at your fingertips to pre-determine your child’s online activity.

An AI-led solution will allow you to have more control and visibility of your home Wi-Fi and connected network.  As a device joins your network, you have the ability to select or create a profile for that user and then link all of that user’s devices to his or her profile.  You may then select age-appropriate maturity and security settings applicable for that user, all from the comfort of an App on your smartphone. For enhanced screen time control, parents or admin users can easily create multiple schedules for profiles and devices and have the ability to manually pause internet access and restart it effortlessly from the App too.

The other consideration for a modern, AI-led, single-App-based, all-in-one Wi-Fi Management, network security and parental control system is that it must be easy for you to use. Also, rather than at the edge (on the relevant devices) the engine that drives the solution is ideally situated at the gateway (your primary internet router), allowing you and your family to enjoy a connected, digital, online life that’s safe and free from the dangers that lurk on the internet, while the AI takes care of continuous monitoring, detection and mitigation of the ever-increasing online threats.

Parents concerned about their children’s online activities and want an effective method of control should reach out to their Internet Service Provider to access what’s on offer since merely changing the “admin” password on your Wi-Fi router will no longer afford you the protection your family needs.