Security and Safety

Smart Tips for Smart Home Security

By Abi Grise Morgan 8.10.23

Almost every appliance you can think of now has Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities, from security camera doorbells to clothes dryers to refrigerators and even toasters! Smart devices are convenient (and, dare I say, nifty), but they are vulnerable to security threats.

The interconnected nature of smart home security appliances means that a breach in one device could compromise the entire network, leaving your home and personal information vulnerable to misuse. Hackers can break into baby monitors and home security systems, demand ransom after locking people out of their thermostats, or — most commonly — use the smart device as the front door to reach their prime target: the identity and banking information available on your phone or computer.

Cyber threats are only growing. It’s essential to take proactive measures to safeguard your smart home security.

1. Keep Each Device Up to Date

Manufacturers frequently release software updates to address security vulnerabilities and improve system stability. By regularly checking for updates and installing them promptly, you ensure that your devices have the latest security patches, reducing the risk of potential breaches.

2. Create Strong Passwords

Always change the default passwords that come with your smart devices. They’re often weak and widely known — an easy target for hackers, who can then gain unauthorized access to the device and your home’s network. Use unique passwords for each device. A password manager is an easy way to generate strong passwords and help you keep track of them.

3. Use Independent, Encrypted Networks for Devices

Hackers can easily eavesdrop on your network traffic and gain access to smart devices if your Wi-Fi network is unsecured or weakly encrypted. In your Wi-Fi settings, select WPA2 or WPA3 encryption (as opposed to older, less secure options like WEP).

Additionally, many routers allow you to create separate guest networks or virtual local area networks (VLANs) for smart devices. Segregating your devices on different guest networks minimizes the potential damage a compromised device can inflict on the rest of your network.

4. Enable 2FA

Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) to log into your various online accounts whenever possible. Two-factor authentication requires a secondary verification method, such as a fingerprint scan or code sent to another device. Even if an unauthorized person obtains your password, they’re locked out without physical access to your secondary verification device.

5. Accept Permissions With Caution

Always review and understand each smart home device’s privacy settings and permissions. Avoid granting unnecessary access to personal data and limit the collection of sensitive information whenever possible.

6. Be Scrupulous About Third-Party Apps

Third-party apps can expand your device’s functionality. However, if they have security vulnerabilities, hackers can exploit them to gain access to your network. Always research and choose trusted, reputable apps — and keep them updated.

7. Don’t Click That Link!

Hackers send deceptive emails or texts pretending to be from legitimate sources, urging users to click on malicious links to provide personal information. This tactic is called “phishing,” and the main goal is to get your login information. If a contact you don’t recognize smells “phishy,” do not click any links in their communications and report the message as spam.

Stay safe online and on paper with our cybersecurity tips and guide to storing documents safely.

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