Smart home products have been increasing in popularity exponentially over the last few years, as more brands release devices and prices become even more affordable.
If you’re keen to create a smart home for yourself in the coming months, or if you have recently started purchasing this kind of tech gear, it’s vital to protect internet-connected devices from hackers.
While this kind of product is useful and fun, it does leave consumers open to increased risk of attack. Thankfully, though, there are numerous steps you can take to stay safer today.
Buy Security-Conscious Brands
One of the first things to consider is the manufacturers behind devices. Focus your browsing on products created by the more security-conscious brands. Generally, these are the firms that have been around for a long time, with a well-known and trusted brand name.
Companies with this kind of credibility don’t want to lose all the goodwill they’ve built up over the years and therefore spend more time and energy on ensuring their devices are as secure as possible. They’re also more likely to invest in regular security updates.
Change Default Settings
Once you’ve purchased smart-home gear, immediately change the default settings once you get it home. Manufacturers typically create standard usernames and passwords they put on all of their devices. They include details in user guides about how buyers can update these settings, but many people either don’t read the documents after purchase or don’t bother or forget to make the changes.
The issue with this is that this default setting information is public knowledge (in user manuals, plus often discussed on forums and online FAQs, etc.), which means hackers can find it easily. As a result, if you don’t change the settings ASAP, you leave yourself open to increased risk of a cyber break-in. Protect yourself by following the manufacturer’s instructions to change the username and password on tech items to something hackers won’t be able to guess.
Install Security Software
Another prime way to stay safe is to install security software on your computers and any other gear you use to control your smart home products. After all, most of the time you’ll use smart-home apps downloaded onto your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Since hackers could break into these gadgets and then find their way into your smart-home products from there, you need to protect them, too.
Always choose quality, comprehensive home network security options that cover you against a wide variety of cyber threats. For example, this list includes malware, ransomware, viruses, spam, spyware, and the like. Top-notch security products will keep your identity private while you’re browsing online, and alert you to attempted break-ins in real-time.
Also, turn on the firewall that’s likely pre-installed on your computer(s). Firewalls are designed to add an extra layer of security and particularly help to stop incoming threats via the internet.
Use Password Protection on Your Wi-Fi Router
Smart-home gadgets are plugged into modems all day every day so they can do their jobs. This is a necessary set up, but unfortunately it also means they are vulnerable to attack if you don’t secure your Wi-Fi router. To stop hackers from getting into your smart-home gear via an internet connection, always password protect your modem.
Choose a hard-to-crack code that’s at least eight characters in length. The password needs to be made up of a mixture of symbols, letters (both upper case and lower case) and numbers. Avoid using any kinds of codes related to information you have shared publicly, too, such as the names of your children or pets, or birth date.
Keep Software and Firmware Updated
To protect your devices from hacker attacks, also keep all software and firmware on tech gear updated. Many people ignore the alerts they receive about new versions of programs that become available over time, but this leaves them open to increased risk.
Manufacturers are continuously on the lookout for security gaps in their software and firmware, and they release new versions that plug these holes. As a result, if you’re not running the latest options, hackers could more easily find their way into your systems.
It’s easy to forget to search for and install updates, so it pays to set programs up to automatically install new versions as they become available.
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as having 100 percent protection from cybercriminal attacks, but by taking the time to follow the steps listed above, you’ll improve your security and be more able to relax and enjoy the benefits of smart-home technology.