Give smart home hackers the boot with these Wi-Fi and router security tips

Sep 23, 2019

Smart home products were designed with convenience in mind — but in reality, they may be introducing us to security vulnerabilities that put our personal information and safety at risk. An unsecured device could be the gateway needed for a smart home hacker to compromise your entire network.

Good router security starts by securing your devices and your home Wi-Fi network. Here’s how to establish a Wi-Fi protected setup so your smart home is secure.

Wi-Fi security protection

A secure smart home starts with a secure Wi-Fi network. Follow these tips to improve your router security and keep your smart home devices protected.

Change the default home network name

Your first line of defense is to change the name of your default home network, also known as the SSID (Service Set Identifier). This is the name the manufacturer gave your Wi-Fi network, such as “Linksys AC1900 network.”

The goal of changing the network name is to make it less identifiable to hackers. Giving your network a clever name, such as “The LAN Before Time” or “Pretty Fly For a Wi-Fi” instead of the manufacturer’s name or “Smith Family Wi-Fi” add a layer of protection. Now, hackers won’t know whose Wi-Fi it is or what type of router you have at a glance.

Once you’ve changed the network’s name, be sure to set a strong password.

Make your passwords count

Did you know that the string “123456” was one of the top 25 most-used passwords in 2018? Other common passwords included “password,” “111111,” “qwerty” and “welcome” — any of these sound familiar?

Hackers know we can’t remember dozens of different passwords and therefore rely on simple, easy-to-guess passwords. That’s why creating strong passwords for each account and using a password manager is so important.

While a password alone may not prevent a brute-force attack, you can improve your router security by keeping your passwords no less than 16 characters long. Or use an online tool like LastPass to generate a random string for you.

Update your devices regularly

Manufacturers offer updates for a reason — and many times that reason is to correct security flaws. This is especially important with smart home devices since many of these are still new to the market and may contain bugs that need to be corrected.

Additionally, don’t forget to update the firmware and software for your modem and router. Keeping your internet equipment up-to-date is just as important as keeping your devices updated.

Opt for a professional monitoring service

If you’re using smart devices to enhance your home security, and you’ve decided to set it up by yourself, you’re opening yourself up to data breaches. A professional installer is probably a lot more aware of the security risks posed by their devices and can make sure you’re protected against them.

Additionally, some home security systems come with monthly professional monitoring services that will keep an eye out for any suspicious behavior or activities.

Choose smart home devices from trusted brands

As smart home products continue to grow in popularity, there will continue to be more brands and products to choose from. Doing a little research beforehand on trusted brands and products as well as looking at reviews from security experts can help save you some headaches later on.

Also, be sure to check out customer service reviews for the brand as well. In the event that there is an issue with your device, you’ll want to know that you can get through to a customer service agent who’s ready and willing to help you in a timely fashion.

By tightening your router security, securing your wireless networks and adopting best practices with your smart home devices, you can make your home truly “smart” — and secure!