4 Tips To Help Protect Your Smart Home Devices

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From digital assistants to app-enabled door locks and video cameras, smart home devices are everywhere. As entertaining and convenient as they are to use, they’re also vulnerable to hackers, says Jerry Irvine, a security expert and partner with Prescient Solutions1, a Schaumburg, Illinois-based IT solutions firm. Because these devices are connected to the Internet, hackers can potentially gain access to a home network and the owner’s personal information.


There are some easy steps you can take to help secure your smart home devices and better protect yourself.

1) DOWNLOAD SECURITY PATCHES

When a company has found a vulnerability in a program – a piece of code that could be exploited by hackers to gain entry into a piece of software – they’ll send out an update to fix the issue. The same protocol is used with smart home devices.


While some devices will automatically download security patches, others will need to be updated manually. It’s not hard to do, says Claudiu Popa, president of Toronto-based Datarisk Canada2. Plug the device into a computer and check for updates


“Set a reminder for yourself to spend an hour or two once a month doing security checks,” Popa says. “Go around to all of your devices and make sure they haven’t suddenly had some big update."

2) UPDATE USERNAMES AND PASSWORDS

Most smart home devices come with a default username and password when you set up your device. In most cases that username is ‘admin,’ while the password is ‘password,’ says Irvine. Many people forget to update those names to something unique.


Irvine recommends not only changing the default username and password, but giving unique credentials to each device. This way, if one ID is discovered, the rest of your devices will remain secure.

3) CREATE A GUEST NETWORK

Most routers allow users to set up guest networks with their own Wi-Fi name, username and password. This is an important step to take, because it gives you the ability to put all your smart devices on a separate network from the one that stores your personal information.


“You get two separate networks in your home and that can prevent someone from accessing one if they get into the other,” says Popa. Create a different username and password for the guest network – and don’t call it ‘Home 2’ or a name that would indicate you have more than one network, says Popa.

4) BE SMART WITH YOUR SMART DEVICES

There are other ways to protect yourself, such as downloading anti-virus software for your computer and buying devices made by brand-name companies, which tend to have larger cybersecurity budgets.


Another way to stay safe, though, is to only use the tech you really want to use, says Irvine. “There once was a vulnerability in a smart teapot, that gave complete access to people’s networks.” Irvine also advises, “Ask yourself if you really need every device.”


Smart home devices are a relatively new technology, but they come with the same kind of cybersecurity issues and vulnerabilities as traditional computer tech. Before using these tools around your home, make sure you understand how they work and how to protect them from any unwanted intrusions. These simple precautions will go a long way in keeping your information secure.

SOURCES:


  1. Prescient Solutions
  2. Datarish Canada

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