Assessing Work From Home Security Packages Vulnerabilities

Salman, Khurram
Cusack, Brian
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Master of Information Security and Digital Forensics
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Auckland University of Technology

This research was conducted in anticipation of the time of the COVID-19 pandemic when social distancing and lockdown became a new norm. As part of business continuity measures, employers asked their workforce to work from home, and there is already a known trend of working remotely. Businesses allow this to minimise costs and maximise gains. These gains can come at a cost, i.e., huge amounts of sensitive data move outside the secure enterprise network and across many devices, often with questionable security arrangements. Typically, remote employees or staff working from home have a wireless modem at home with ‘zero’ security features. These devices are good for providing internet and network connectivity but not security, which makes home network users and staff working remotely from home vulnerable and soft targets. In this research, it is identified in depth what a typical smart home looks like. What are the security challenges faced by home users/staff working from home? What are the security aspects where such users are challenged? Due to the type of devices and audience at home, they cannot be left to fight for themselves. This is of specific and essential importance. There should be new ways of looking at home networks and ideas to protect home networks that have the same level of security as enterprises have these days. Furthermore, this research aimed to establish a model to offer support from Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to home network users and that security responsibility be gradually moved away from the users themselves to their ISPs. The various technical security responsibilities can be taken away from home users and given to ISPs. The idea of a managed firewall solution for enterprise networks will be brought into prospect for home networks. Firewalls have proven to be an efficient and effective solution to protect enterprise networks, and modern home networks are also the same but smaller in scale. Some enterprises have acquired managed firewall solutions from ISPs. Similarly, an ISP-managed firewall will be introduced in a home network which will work as a gateway to the internet. This research continued by evaluating three firewall packages available in New Zealand to see which one provides the most comprehensive security for a home network user. To achieve the objectives of this study and considering the size of the home network, shortlist firewall packages that will have the same feature set available to home network users as those available for enterprise networks. To test the hypothesis that an ISP managed firewall solution is an effective solution for protecting the home network. This research evaluated the market solutions that are available to home network users through ISPs and 3rd party vendors. Test firewall solutions in the home lab against the various attacks that are security threats and monitor their results by performing ethical hacking best practices. The data from multiple sources will be captured and parsed. The data obtained will be analysed individually to monitor the performance of each firewall and compare it with other firewall results. The test results in a comparison of the performance of each product with the manufacturer’s claims and the performance of each firewall. From this study, we will identify the optimum firewall solution available for home networks through ISPs. From the comparative analysis, judgements will be made on the value proposition of these firewall packages, which are more suitable for home network users as a product, and recommendations will be made. This study aimed to identify the modern-day security threats to a home network and how to protect the home network from them? How a home network can be protected from ever-emerging security threats? Does the knowledge of cyber security help home network users protect their homes and secure their home networks? What help ISPs can offer to home network users? Do ISP-managed firewalls help home network users secure their home network? Determine the role a firewall can play in a home network and keep the security threats at bay? Evaluate multiple vendor firewall packages and each vendor's unique offering which will protect the home network and secure home network users. Lastly, conclude the study with the test results obtained, and suggest the future direction in which this study should progress and explore more options and strategies that can help home network users and secure home networks.

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