Having a smart home is not only fun and entertaining, but also practical, when you consider how many internet-connected devices are available and how much time and energy they can save. The costs of such items are getting lower all the time, too, which is a bonus.
However, there is a potential downside to these smart devices that needs to be considered: the fact that hackers are increasingly taking advantage of connected gear to break into systems and homes. You don’t have to get rid of all your favorite smart-home tech, though, to stay safe. There are a variety of steps you can take today to protect yourself from cybercriminals.
Choose from the More Security-Conscious Brands
Firstly, when you go shopping for smart-home gear, it pays to consider the bigger, more established brands that are typically more security-conscious than other companies. Trusted brands that have been producing tech gear for years are more heavily scrutinized in every regard, and thereby tend to place more importance on the security of their products.
When designing and manufacturing smart-home devices, the more known brands tend to think about every security precaution they can. Plus, due to having a more prominent reputation to uphold, they often spend more time and money on updating their products to plug security gaps. This, in turn, is beneficial for consumers.
Change Product Settings Once You Buy Goods
Don’t forget to change the settings that come standard on your devices. Manufacturers usually always have default usernames and passwords they use for all their goods, and hackers know this (and can find the default information easily online and elsewhere). As a result, change these details ASAP so you don’t give cybercriminals an “in.”
You might think it doesn’t make much of a difference, but in reality, hackers may scan devices in your area or break into your network remotely. If they see a certain brand name showing up, as a standard username setting, they’ll guess you’re still using the default options and will think your devices are more vulnerable to attack. You don’t want to encourage digital break-ins, so change settings sooner rather than later.
Use Appropriate Home Network Security Software
Another prime way to protect your smart home gear is to use quality home network security in your house to keep hackers at bay. Security software like this makes it harder for cybercriminals to break into your devices, and can protect against a variety of threat types, such as spam, viruses, ransomware, spyware, and malware.
These days there are even comprehensive programs that will alert you to situations where someone is trying to hack your systems, so you can take additional precautions to lock them out for good.
To keep your products as secure as possible, you must also update their software and firmware regularly. Also, update security software, passwords, and the operating systems, browsers, etc. that are on the computers, tablets, and smartphones you use to control your smart-home devices.
Developers create updates for a reason. They release new versions of their programs when they find security gaps that hackers could take advantage of. Thus, if you’re not running the latest offerings, you leave yourself more open to attack. Avoid this situation by setting your gear to update as soon as new releases are available.
Also, make sure you always check for updates when you first buy smart-home products. You don’t know how long items will have been sitting in warehouses or stores, so newer versions may have come out after their manufacture date.
Secure Your Wi-Fi
Since all smart-home gadgets must be connected to the internet to do the jobs they’re designed for, they’re more vulnerable if anyone nearby can hop on and use your Wi-Fi service. Hackers understand that not everyone puts a password on their internet, and they take advantage of this as a way to get into devices.
You should, therefore, protect your router with a solid username and password that cybercriminals won’t be able to crack by looking at your social media accounts or other public information. Make your code at least eight characters in length, and containing a mixture of numbers, symbols, and letters.
Creating a smart home is fun and entertaining and can save time. However, all of these benefits will be moot if you end up hacked into because of these devices. Take the precautions you must to stay safe, and your efforts will be well worth it.