How to

How to secure your smart home

How to secure your smart home

How do you know if your smart security camera, doorbell or speaker is safe from hackers? This is what you can do to protect your IoT devices on your home network.

No doubt you have read at least one story about a well-known smart home product that was hacked. Be it security cameras, video bells or smart speakers, some manufacturers don’t prioritize privacy and security when designing this product.

Some are very easy to hack (for someone who knows what they are doing) because the admin password is set to ‘admin’, while others have security vulnerabilities that are never patched.

As we install more and more smart devices in our homes, they become a greater target for hackers. Obviously, it’s no big deal if someone hacks your smart lamp or heater. Lost the most uncomfortable control.

There may be more serious consequences for indoor devices equipped with microphones and cameras, but what about the robot vacuum that maps your home? Did sensitive information fall into the wrong hands?

What if someone hacked your connected car and could he control the vehicle? Taken to the extreme, lives can be risky.

You can’t install antivirus software on Amazon Echo or Nest Bel, but you don’t need to stop using the gadget. There are several things you can do to help protect your smart home from hackers, and here are X tips that anyone can follow, even if you’re far from a tech or security expert.

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1. Don’t reuse passwords

It is very tempting – and convenient – to use the same e-mail address, username and password for multiple services. Not. If one of them is hacked and your login information is leaked, then it’s not just one service that can be misused: hackers now use any logins to try to log in to all popular online services to see if they function.

If you can’t remember multiple passwords – and who can – then use a password manager like LastPass or 1Password to remember them for you.

2. Use two-factor authentication

2FA is not available on all smart home accounts, but where is it, activate it. Yes, it’s inconvenient to have to type in your password and then get the second code sent to your cellphone and have to enter it, but it’s much safer.

This means that even if your email address and password are hacked, criminals still cannot log in to your Google Nest account, for example.

Smart home manufacturers that use two-step verification include: Amazon, Ring, Google, Nest, Microsoft, Sony (PlayStation).

3. Change the default password

The first time you install the device, you will be asked to change the default password. This is not always the case, but for some devices, such as NAS drives, security cameras and others, they will use a standard user name and password for access.

If you leave it at factory default, it’s relatively easy for anyone with a standard password list to login.

4. Disable remote access if you don’t use it

Most smart devices can be controlled wherever you are, not just at home. But if you don’t need remote access, look for an option to disable it.

This will make it more difficult to access because someone must first hack your router or Wi-Fi to get access to your home network, and that is very difficult.

5. Don’t use smart home kits via public Wi-FI

Free Wi-Fi is good, but inherently insecure because there is no encryption if you don’t need to enter a password to connect to the network.

This means a lot of data is sent as ‘plain text’ that is easy to read by anyone who knows what they are doing and who use the same free Wi-Fi. Applications with bad code can, for example, send your password in plain text when it really needs to be encrypted.

If you must use public Wi-Fi, then make sure to use a VPN such as NordVPN because this will encrypt all data coming in and from the internet through a free Wi-Fi connection.

6. Keep updating the device

The best smart home kit automatically updates itself whenever new software or firmware is available. But you can also check it manually to make sure your device is up to date.

The process will vary, but you usually find the option to check for updates in the companion device application on your phone.

7. Use your PIN or password on your mobile, tablet and PC

The temptation is to seek comfort and not set a password or PIN on the device you use at home. But this is very risky.

Windows 10 allows you to set a PIN after you set a password, and this makes it faster to enter. If your computer supports Windows Hello, set it. It uses fingerprints or face recognition to make you faster, and the same applies to almost all phones: all have fingerprint or face recognition scanners.

Be careful with basic face recognition that your photos can fool: systems that use IR or 3D scanners are much safer.

8. Buy from a trusted company

There are so many choices in terms of smart home products, especially security cameras, but there is no way to know whether the device you are buying is actually safe or not.

As Raj Samani from McAfee pointed out when I spoke to him recently, “When you are looking for a trader to do some work for you, you have various ways to check whether they have a good reputation. There are many websites like Checkatrade.com which allows you to read reviews of their work, and you can find out more about them from Companies House. ”

“However, you cannot check whether the smart home device manufacturer has adopted safe coding practices. You cannot ask the car dealer whether you can check the connected car’s software code. We must make a purchase decision based on unclearity. Information. We must trust company. ”

So before you buy, check the company’s privacy policy – if you can – and decide for yourself whether you trust the company or not.

9. Get security on your router

Antivirus is very important on a device that can run it, and if you don’t use it then you should do it. As much as anything, it is everyone’s responsibility to run antivirus software to prevent the spread of malware, if you do not facilitate it.

The following are our recommendations for the best antivirus software.

For devices that cannot run antivirus, you can protect it with software that runs on your router, or you can buy a special router like Bitdefender Box 2 (reviewed).

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Routers like this and D-Link DIR-2660 run McAfee security software, so protect all devices connected to the internet through them, and usually also offer parental control as a bonus.

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