By Kayla Matthews associated with
Consumer technology is smarter than ever. This is especially true around the home, where appliances and lights connect with the internet in new and unprecedented ways. On top of that, devices with built-in virtual assistants make it possible to control some of this hardware with nothing but your voice. But there is a downside to such advanced technology. Just like other systems that came before, some of these new devices are prime targets for hackers and identity thieves.
Smart home products offer many advantages, says Maik Morgenstern, chief technology officer for the AV-TEST Institute in the US, but they also come with some dangers. Here are three security tips from Morgenstern to help you protect yourself while still using new home technology.
1. Use separate and secure passwords
Hackers can easily access the defaults on devices and gain access to data, says Morgenstern. They use search engines, such as Shodan, to gain access to that information.
Shodan is kind of like Google, but for internet-connected devices. It’s one of the first search engines of its kind and, unfortunately, allows anyone who uses it to find specific routers, computer servers and more using different search filters. Basically, if someone wants to find your wi-fi network’s information badly enough, there’s a good chance they can.
To protect yourself, Morgenstern recommends changing any default user names or passwords installed by the manufacturer. The device’s manual or customer service will be able to help you figure this out on your specific device.
Philips Lighting US
When you set up your devices or change the default information, Morgenstern recommends using a separate password for each device and picking ones that are more secure.
Using a secure password for each of your connected devices is one of most effective methods of protecting your information on the internet. So, rather than using the same, easy-to-remember password for your smart speaker, your internet provider account and your mobile app accounts, use a different password for each one.
For best results, try using a combination of upper and lowercase letters and some numbers in your passwords. Using special characters, such as an exclamation point or dash, will also make your password harder to crack.
If you use the same password for every one of your accounts, the intruder will be able to access your entire online life. To avoid this, make sure to use separate and secure passwords for every single account you own. It might be difficult to remember multiple login credentials for several different sites, but it could save you a lot of headaches and frustrations in the end.
You’re probably now thinking: “How am I supposed to remember that many different passwords?” Luckily, there are lots of great apps that not only save your passwords for you but also encrypt them so no one else can steal them. LastPass is one of the most popular of these apps.
2. Secure your wi-fi network
As useful as wi-ii is, it remains one of the most glaring vulnerabilities of any home network.
“The wi-fi network and the router must also be protected against attacks from the outside,” says Morgenstern. He recommends setting up a separate guest network for all of your devices in the router configuration. Then, make sure your smart devices connect to the internet through a guest account instead of through your primary login. This disables many of the entry points that are commonly used by hackers to gain unauthorised access to a system or device.
Instructions for creating a guest account depend on your service provider and the exact hardware you’re using, but most wi-fi routers include easy and straightforward options for doing so. And, if you’d still like some help creating a guest account, you can call your provider and get them to help you set one up. Remember to secure your wi-fi router with a unique password too!
3. Remember: your connected gadgets could be monitoring you at any time
“Keep in mind that smart home products can not only support, but also monitor, your daily life,” says Morgenstern.
These devices could be collecting sensitive data, and it’s not always clear who gets this data and what it’s used for, he says. “When choosing devices and cloud services, be aware of the privacy practices of manufacturers and vendors,” he says. “Give preference to vendors that only collect data that is necessary to use the devices.”
All of this technology is designed to make our lives easier. While it might seem like we’re going through a lot of trouble to set up advanced security, such safeguards are necessary to protect your personal information and preserve the integrity of such smart devices for years to come.
With the number of connected devices growing exponentially on a daily basis, it’s critical to install a robust, secure framework right from the start.