Smart home products were designed with convenience in mind—but in actuality, they may be introducing us to security vulnerabilities that put your personal information and safety at risk. Cybercrime, as this kind of hacking is called, is predicted to grow immensely as homes adopt more devices that function over the cloud. And with these products, it’s not just your credit card or your phone number on offer. With streaming security footage, nearly every aspect of your life could be monitored by hackers.
Good security starts by securing your devices—and especially your WiFi. Your internet access is the gateway that allows hackers into any number of products, so it’s a good idea to keep it on lockdown.
- Make Your Passwords Count. Did you know that the string “12345” was one of the top five most-used passwords in 2014? Did you know that “123456” was, too? Hackers don’t try just try a handful of passwords and then give up—they use automated brute-force attacks that go through and systematically check common strings of characters until they find a match. While a password alone may not prevent a brute-force attack, you can improve your 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.
- Change Default Passwords. Another thing that gets users into trouble is not putting in a password at all. Sometimes routers and devices come with default passwords, which makes you vulnerable if you don’t switch them out.
- Update Your Devices. 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 in their infancy and may contain bugs that need to be corrected.
- 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.
- Choose Name Brand Products When You Go With Devices. As an emerging technology, there are plenty of companies trying to get in on the smart device game. Many products have been released in a hurry, without being thoroughly tested by developers. As a result, the products may have security issues that aren’t evident in preliminary testing. Purchasing name-brand items, however, offers extra peace of mind here. Since these products are more well-known, there’s a lot more at stake if a huge security flaw is exposed.
By adopting best practices with your devices and routers, you can make you smart home truly “smart.”
Author bio: Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner. She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for Modernize, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.