Protect your phone and family
Secure and protect your smart home devices. What is a “smart” product? Examples: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Wink Hub 2, Samsung SmartThings Hub, and more.
Smart products let you: Control household appliances with your phone! The same applies to your security system, if it is in the smart category. So, if you are driving down the road, you can pull over and use your phone to manage home security.
What could go wrong?
What has gone wrong is that some crooks are also smart. As a result, they are using “smart” products to gain entrance.
A few “smart” home products are themselves security breaches. They can be hacked by some guy living in Bulgaria. Or, next door.
The Washington Post reported in 2018 about a hacker who threatened a family. A man’s voice came over a baby monitor and camera in the home of Ellen and Nathan Rigney.
“I’m going to kidnap your baby,” the voice said, Ellen Rigney recalled to news station KPRC. “I’m in your baby’s room.”
Help Hackproof Your Devices: Smart Home Safety Tips
Many homeowners don’t want to go through the hassle of advanced electronics configurations. Don’t worry – we’ve compiled the easiest-to-follow tech tips that dramatically lower your smart devices’ susceptibility to hackers.
Advice from safety.com (https://www.safety.com/how-to-protect-smart-home-from-hackers/)
- Weigh the vulnerabilities vs. the benefits.
“Unfortunately, it is always worth remembering that there is no IT infrastructure that can be 100% secured. The only thing we can do is seek to reduce the risk. Therefore, when designing a smart home system, it is worth analyzing what is important to us and what the risk is,” says Markiewicz.
Before you add to your home network, ask yourself: Is the convenience this device offers worth the potential risk of a hack? If not, don’t buy one. Research every device and brand you buy.
- Create a secure Wi-Fi network.
Purchase a router from a reputable brand and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to change the name of the network and default password. Choose a network name that doesn’t automatically give away your location or personal details. Consider also hiding your network from view, an option which can usually be found in the router’s settings menu.
It’s also possible to create a second Wi-Fi network specifically for your smart home devices. Many routers allow you to create multiple networks, each with their own name and password. This way, hacking your IoT device will confine an attacker to that network and keeping it segregated from where you do your banking and store your sensitive information. It’s also a good idea to set up a Guest network for visitors’ smartphones and computers, where they can’t see or access your IoT devices.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of your passwords.
It’s incredible that the humble, old-fashioned password system is the main line of defense protecting our most high-tech devices. Take your passwords seriously! Whenever you get a new device, change the default password immediately. Otherwise, the password to your Wi-Fi router or security camera might be just a Google search away. Use unique, hard to guess passwords with several characters, numbers and letters on all of your devices. A password manager like LastPass can help you remember them all more conveniently.
- Register every new device with the manufacturer and keep them up to date.
Registration is important because companies frequently push out software updates that address newfound bugs and security concerns. If a vulnerability has been discovered, you’ll need the company’s software updates to patch it up. Also, when you install the associated apps, be cognizant of what permissions you’re granting. Don’t allow access to anything that isn’t necessary.
- Consider professional installation.
If the previous tips are making your head spin, remember that the leading home security providers offer professional installation with great built-in smart home integration. Technicians can handle any necessary hardwiring for you and answer all of your questions about more advanced security measures.
- Unplug devices that aren’t in use.
When you leave town, unplug any appliances that won’t be active. Not only will it save on your energy bill, it will also make them inaccessible to hackers. You’ll probably want to leave important appliances like the security camera, video doorbell and the thermostat on, but you can unplug extra smart speakers, vacuums, etc.
- Factory reset devices before getting rid of them.
If you decide to sell, throw out or give away one of your smart electronics, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to remove all of your data. Otherwise, the next person who gets their hands on it may automatically access all of your information or communicate with other devices on your network.
The folks who manufacture smart products know smart devices are a benefit. The features are extremely appealing to consumers. On the other hand, our demand for convenience can cause “impulse” purchases.
There are things that you as a homeowner or a business person can do about the risks. Long term; ask for industry standards. Smart products should be tested and secured before they show up on store shelves, right? Short term; you can take steps to stop hackers from using your own electronics against you…
Let’s look at ways you can secure and protect your smart home devices:
Secure and protect your smart home devices
Stop the madness!
- Read the packaging! Look for information on how to protect your smart home devices. There may be patches or updated software you need to download. If necessary, contact the manufacturer. Contact information should be with the product; otherwise Google.
- Ask the store where you bought the smart device. They have industry information that can help you, or they can find out. Not sure what to ask? Try something like this. “Thank you for the XYZ Smart Gadget. How can I make sure it is secure against tampering via internet?”
- Talk to the people you know, and ask them if they found good solutions. Even if they can’t help you, you might end up helping them. Social media could be useful here.
- Multi-factor authentication. Sounds fancy; works great. This means both a password and a text-message response are required to access the system.
- Try a free password management tool like LastPass (link below). Or, try a pro version for your business. This will let you use “strong” passwords without the hassle of memorizing. Is your smart device still using a default password? Remember that online forums often reveal default passwords and usernames of products. It’s crucial to change those settings after installation.
- How old is the smart device? If six months or more, you can check to see if the manufacturer has fixed security loopholes and then upgrade. Or, find a manufacturer with better security. This will really help protect your smart home devices.
Related to protect your smart home devices:
Download antivirus software like Trend Micro security or McAfee antivirus. This is to protect computers and phones where you can download such software. This won’t alter smart home devices, but you are at least creating a more safe environment.
Anti-virus companies compete with each other, and are eager to get your business by upping their quality. That’s good for you. Even a free version of well-known security software is a good start.
Password management tools
“Smart” devices mishaps:
- Toys let hackers talk to children
- More toys letting hackers in
- Hacker taunts family in their home
- Hacker’s voice in girl’s bedroom
- Harassment live-streamed
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