By connecting smart devices, such as lights, cameras, door locks, and thermostats, to the Internet, you may be making your smart-home—and you—visible to digital thieves or hackers. “Every device connected to the Internet is a target,” said Theresa Payton, former White House CIO and founder/CEO of Fortalice Solutions. And a few recent news stories illustrate the power these devices wield. One family’s living room Wi-Fi camera was infiltrated, allowing someone to not only control the camera and spy on them, but to broadcast sound—including a false report of a nuclear missile attack. We’ve also seen domestic abusers tap into smart-home technology to intimidate and stalk former partners.
According to Statista, there will be about 42 million smart homes by the end of 2022, but little more than anecdotal evidence of security compromises. So while stories about hacks and privacy breaches are indeed scary, so far they’re also rare, and the vast majority of smart-home users aren’t getting hacked. Still, as with any Internet-connected device, taking precautions is essential.
The following advice will help protect your smart home devices from being hacked:
1. Recognize the weaknesses of the smart home technology you use
Determine whether devices are capable of connecting to the internet and whether there is a need or want to connect those particular devices as the first step in securing your smart home equipment from attacks. Before buying, installing, and connecting a device to your home network, you must be aware of the security features that are offered for that item.
One of those items can convey vulnerabilities to another, for instance, if your smart speaker is linked to your Wi-Fi network, which is also connected to your smart TV, your video doorbell, and your smart thermostat. If one thing is compromised, the others may be too. As a result, you will need a strategy to safeguard every component of your smart ecosystem, not just one.
2. Use only trusted brands of smart home technologies
Some smart home technologies are pricey, and for many of us, the temptation to skimp and purchase the cheapest item may be strong. You should carefully weigh your alternatives and bear in mind that making a decision solely based on pricing may carry additional risk. Brand names often take additional efforts to safeguard their reputation, so it stands to reason that they may take security seriously. But even household names may be compromised. There are no guarantees, therefore it is crucial to thoroughly investigate your alternatives.
When selecting a smart device, take into account whether it receives regular software and security updates. You should also read the privacy statement to see how the company plans to utilize any collected personal information. Think about reading customer testimonials and doing research on websites that offer consumer protection.
3. Safeguard your Wi-Fi network
It is crucial to generate a strong, one-of-a-kind password for your Wi-Fi network while configuring your Wi-Fi router or if you have not modified default settings. A vulnerability may exist with the default password, such as the one that is printed on your router or provided to you by your service provider. Select a password that is exclusive to your network and is not used on any of your other devices or accounts. Use WPA2 encryption, which may be found in your router’s settings, and turn on any firewalls that are offered.
For further in-depth instructions, consult the manufacturer’s product information that was packaged with your Wi-Fi router when you purchased it. Visit the manufacturer’s website if you need assistance with your router settings in addition to finding out more about the device. The website of your service provider can also be helpful.
Additionally, think about consulting your service provider or the router’s maker to find out how to maintain your router current with the most recent security upgrades.
4. Use different passwords everywhere
Having a special network password might not be sufficient to protect your devices. Consider assigning unique passwords for each of your devices that are exclusive to that product. A few times a year at the very least, refresh these passwords.
Activate multi-factor identification as well. Typically, you must input a code that was created at random and delivered to you through text, email, or mobile app. Additionally, to manage your login credentials across all of your devices, you might want to think about utilizing a trustworthy, secure, and user-friendly password manager. A password manager is a secure digital safe where you may save your website login credentials. Another option to protect your passwords is to use a strong password generator to prevent you from using the same one for several services and devices.
5. Secure the components of your smart home
The only method to safeguard each of your different devices is with a unique password. Make sure you have the highest security settings enabled by checking the privacy settings on each device. While you are there, you should also turn off remote access (unless you require that capability). Additionally, think about turning off Wi-Fi on any gadgets that you decide not to use as smart devices. There are a few additional ways to further secure your smart devices. A number of companies now offer a verification system to control access to devices, called two-factor authentication.
Finally, it is crucial to exercise caution when managing and utilizing your smart home technologies. When using a public network, such as one at a coffee shop, to access your video doorbell or home security system, your entire house may be in danger. Never use an open or unsecured network to access your devices. Instead, safeguard yourself before accessing these connections by using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) programmed or your hotspot.
Recognize that every Bluetooth connection, every Wi-Fi connection, and every other wireless connection you create is vulnerable to attack. This will provide you with a better understanding of the dangers connected to your smart home devices and give you the tools you need to mitigate those risks. Keep in mind that the smartest house you can have is one that is safe.