We live in a remarkable time when technology has evolved to such a point that we can control just about everything in our homes from one space or device. The rise of smart homes has revolutionized how we comfort and entertain ourselves and secure our homes with smart speakers, doorbells, thermostats, televisions, and more. However, this lifestyle does not come without risks.
While new technology has made things easier for you to live your lives, it has also made it easier for hackers and cybercriminals to invade your homes and steal your information. You must lock all your digital doorways so you can avoid this unwanted invasion of privacy.
Let’s talk about smart homes and how to lock these digital doorways.
A Blessing and a Curse
You may not realize it, but if you have a smart home, you are part of a web of technology known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Essentially, this means that much of your tech is connected, so you can use a cell phone to turn on the television, lower the air conditioning, or see who is at the front door when someone knocks, and you can do it all from a coffee shop across town. It is truly revolutionary, and everyone needs that comfort and security, especially with the turbulent times of 2020.
However, you must take the steps to protect yourself. Most people probably don’t think about cybercrime when they’re using their smart speakers or other small devices, assuming it is their computers that are at risk due to the information those contain. However, when all of your devices are connected, a hack into your smart TV could lead the hacker to your Wi-Fi router, which could then lead them to your computer and your private data.
But it’s more than just data theft. Think about the smart devices you have at home and how they can be used for malicious means. A hacker could break into your security cameras or even baby monitors and view your rooms to see if you are home and if you’re not, they could break in. How much do you use your smart speaker? Many people use them to buy stuff online or order food, which means your credit card number is likely involved. If a hacker can gain access, then they can use that information to open fraudulent credit accounts that could put you in major debt.
Stop It at the Source
So your smart devices are all connected, which means that access to one could create an entryway to another. However, there is one true front door to your entire network, and that is your wireless router. This where everything from your smart refrigerator to your mobile internet is given the ability to remain online and function when instructed. If a hacker gains access to your router, then you could have all the issues listed previously, so you must take the initiative to protect it.
Start by making a complicated router password. Avoid your dog’s name or the street you live on, and instead use a complicated password with a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. Creating passphrases of nonsense are the best passwords. Never give out your password. Even a friend or neighbor with the best intentions could write it down somewhere and have it stolen by hackers. Also, update your router whenever a new firmware update comes around, as that is the only way to defend against the newest threats.
If you are a homeowner who operates all of your smart devices from your phone, then you need to take the necessary steps to keep it out of dangerous hands. You also want a lock on your phone and double it up with two-factor authentication, which could mean an additional password, or even better, biometric authentication, like a fingerprint or face recognition that only you can unlock. If you are out in a public place and you want to trigger one of your devices at home, be sure to only connect to the secure Wi-Fi at the establishment. A common hacker trick is a man-in-the-middle attack, which is a fake Wi-Fi account that looks like the real deal, but if you connect, the hacker gains instant access to your device, often without you knowing.
Protecting Your Smart Devices
Even if you keep the primary entryways secure, hackers can still find ways to your devices, so take the time to protect them each individually. The most important thing you can do is to register all of your equipment so you can be informed when new software updates are available. These updates will have security patches that can protect your device from the newest threats.
One of the great things about IoT devices is that they are very easy to set up as users can usually just plug them in, connect to the network, and start enjoying the machine immediately. But take some extra time to thoroughly go through the system preferences, especially when it comes to the data permissions. As a default, many devices will be pre-set to allow information you provide to be sent back to the manufacturer and other sources. Nip that in the bud by unchecking those permissions and stop the sharing.
Make it a routine to check in on your smart devices every several months to determine if updates are available and if there are any new safety tools that you can switch on. If you ever have a power outage, check everything afterward and confirm that the settings have not defaulted back to the factory settings. Finally, install an antivirus software program on your computers and laptops and run a scan every week to clean out any malicious viruses. Stay active with your security, and hackers will leave you alone for an easier target.
Yes, the invention of smart devices sure has made life sweet, but as with everything, dangerous characters are looking to take advantage of your love of tech. Take a few minutes to secure your stuff now, and enjoy your smart life without worry.