If you’re like millions of other people around the world, you have at least one, if not many, smart home products on your property. You could have lights, cameras, audio systems, door locks or appliances controlled by an app on your tablet or smartphone, from wherever you may be.
While there are lots of fun benefits to smart devices, consumers need to be aware of a downside that is becoming increasingly more problematic: hackers breaking in. Fortunately, there are things you can do to avoid your systems and data being compromised, so read on for some tips to follow today.
Change the Default ID Names and Passwords on Your Devices
For starters, make some changes to your smart home products as soon as you get them home. The goods will come with default ID names and passwords, which have been put in place by the manufacturers for all products in the range.
These need to be updated because they can be found online — just search “default password” and your device on Google, and you’ll find your login credentials.
This makes items vulnerable to attack, and shows cybercriminals, if they run scans in your area looking for ways in, exactly what kinds of devices you have in your home and that you haven’t changed the settings.
Hackers noticing this will assume that if you haven’t changed the ID name, you didn’t change the passwords either and that you’re probably lax with security. In turn, this will make them more likely to zero in on your systems to try and break in.
It’s not difficult to update the settings once you have purchased products. The manufacturers include information guides with their devices, and these contain steps to make the necessary changes. Make sure you update both the username and the password.
The codes you choose for your passwords should be at least eight characters in length and made up of a mixture of symbols, numbers and upper- and lower-case letters.
Keep Software Updated in Smart Home Devices
Next, keep in mind that software needs to be kept updated. It’s not enough to set devices up and then never touch them again; you need to ensure they’re always running the latest versions, so any security gaps that open up over time are plugged. If you don’t, hackers can more easily find a way in.
To start with, check new products for updates as soon as you buy them. While you might think this is unnecessary because the goods are brand new, you don’t actually know how long the items were sitting on the shelf in a store and in a manufacturer’s warehouse before that. As such, it’s quite possible they’ll need an update straight away.
After that, check around once a month for new software versions that become available. Most smart devices won’t update automatically; however, the smart phone app that’s designed to help buyers use products often have an alert feature in them. Use this to serve as a reminder.
Use Security Software
Another key step to take is to install the best internet security software you can find onto any computer-based gadgets you use to control your smart home products. Since you will use a computer, tablet or phone to set up and operate the apps and other interfaces of internet-connected devices, hackers can use them as an entry point, too.
Select security software that protects you when browsing the internet and keeps your privacy secure.
You want something that will cover you against malware, ransomware, spyware, spam, viruses and the like. Also, add firewalls to your devices where possible as these act as another handy line of defense against hackers who try to get into networks via an internet connection.
Protect Your Home’s Wi-Fi
Something else you need to protect in order to stay safe is your home’s wi-fi. Hackers realize, after all, that since smart home devices have to use the internet to function, it’s possible to break into them, and your other systems, by way of an unsecured wireless network.
To keep cybercriminals at bay, password-protect your wi-fi. Choose a tough-to-crack password, and also update the username on your modem. As mentioned above, the code you use should be of a good length and made up of a mixture of characters so it’s not something hackers can guess.
Make sure you never use any words or numbers that people could work out based on information you post online. For example, steer clear of birthdays, children’s or pet names, addresses, lucky numbers, business names and so on.