In today’s data-driven world, more homeowners are aware of the need to maintain a secure and robust home network. With so many household devices now connected and transmitting data to the outside world, the choice of home network they operate on plays a crucial role in securing personal information. 

Wired networks aren’t foolproof, but they can greatly improve a home’s network security, especially compared to Wi-Fi. 

The Inherent Vulnerabilities of Wi-Fi

There’s no question that Wi-Fi offers a lot of convenience and flexibility. But it’s also more vulnerable. 

From a security standpoint, Wi-Fi networks are more susceptible to network intrusion. The 2017 KRACK attack, for example, showed the vulnerability of Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA2), the encryption standard that secures most modern Wi-Fi networks. Additionally, the constant evolution of security protocols, such as the introduction of WPA3, often leaves older devices unprotected due to the lack of upgrade options.

The rapid proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices exacerbates Wi-Fi’s security issues. Devices like smart thermostats, security cameras, and even energy-saving appliances are essentially ‘IoT devices,’ sharing data and connecting to Internet-based sources. These devices can easily become targets for hackers, with compromised devices forming entry points for large-scale cyberattacks. This risk has been highlighted in numerous well-publicized cases, emphasizing the need for a more secure alternative.

Wired Networks: A More Secure Alternative

Wired networks, or structured wiring, offer a more secure alternative to Wi-Fi. By design, a wired network is a ‘closed circuit,’ with its external access point—the gateway or modem and router combo—easily protected by firewalls. This provides an additional line of defence, significantly reducing the points of external access and the risk of intrusion.

Wired networks can also enhance the security of wireless devices. One way is to implement a Home Area Network (HAN) setup, in which a wired residential gateway or router provides a firewalled sub-network for other devices. In this setup, wireless traffic is further segmented into separate sub-networks based on its security, effectively reducing the main network’s exposure to potential threats.

Beyond security, wired networks also provide additional benefits like increased capacity and reduced interference. Commonplace (and data-intensive) activities like 4K streaming, online gaming, and remote working can lead to slowdowns on Wi-Fi networks. By contrast, wired networks leveraging CAT6 Ethernet connections can more consistently handle speeds up to 10Gb/s. 

How to Set Up Wired Networks for More Secure Homes

A hub and spoke model is still the most effective way to establish a wired home network. This method starts with a media panel, which is the main hub for all network equipment throughout the home. This panel should be centrally located and easy enough to access. Other devices like modems, routers, VOIP gateways, and security systems can be placed inside or near the media panel.

Wired access points—or the spokes, in the hub and spoke model—should be strategically placed throughout the home. High-usage areas that require a secure wired connection would include a family room media center, a home office, bedrooms, and other rooms where occupants would want to use UHD TVs or have high-performance gaming setups.

When designing or constructing a new home, pre-wiring with CAT6 cables is recommended. This can be done not only for obvious wall outlet locations but also for security cameras, home automation, and home healthcare devices that currently depend on external power supplies. This strategy ensures that whether they use Power over Ethernet (PoE) or USB Type-C, the wiring will be ‘in the wall’, secure, and ready.

When installing the wiring, avoid surrounding metal objects, concrete, or brick walls that might absorb the signal. Also, steer clear of areas with a continuous movement of people, microwave ovens, or wireless phone stations, as they can cause radio wave interference.

Better Security, Better Performance 

In today’s highly connected world, ensuring a secure home network is of paramount importance. While Wi-Fi offers convenience, its inherent vulnerabilities expose connected devices to significant risks. 

As an alternative, wired networks or structured wiring provide enhanced security and a range of additional benefits. With careful planning and strategic implementation, a wired home network can offer a robust, secure, and efficient solution for our growing connectivity needs.