Rights & Money

How to Secure Your Smart Home

Don’t let cyber criminals into your home through your smart devices

By Matt Smith

An unsuspecting Arizona man was recently shocked to find his home security system talking to him one night. The speaker was a white-hate hacker—a helpful cybersecurity specialist—who wanted to warn Andy Gregg that his home security system was easy to hack into because his password had been compromised on the Internet. Gregg has since given up on using the security system.

You may not be lucky enough to get a wake-up call from a friendly hacker should the smart devices in your home be compromised, but that doesn’t mean that you have to stop using them entirely. While no smart home is completely safe from hackers (yet), there are a number of precautions you can take to ensure that your devices are as secure as possible.

Practicing good WiFi security is a must. Customize your network name and set a strong password, as the default ones are easy to hack. Don’t give away any personal details in your network name either—don’t use your surname for example.

If you’re more tech inclined, you can go a step further by creating a separate WiFi network just for your smart devices. This helps prevent identity theft as you’ll be using a separate channel for such things as communication and online banking.

If possible, create an additional network for guests to use, keeping the number of people who can access your secure WiFi to a minimum. You may even be able to enlist the help of your Internet service provider to set this up.

In addition to securing your WiFi, you may be able to password-protect your smart devices themselves. Be sure to reprogram the default passwords to something more secure, and don’t use the same password for multiple devices.

Keep your smart devices updated to their latest versions to ensure that their security features are up to date. Be wary of purchasing products that lack security measures, and buy only from reputable brands. By avoiding generic brands, you’ll have more assurance that a well-established manufacturer will keep its products updated to deal with the latest security threats.

It’s also important to be aware of what personal information is being collected by the devices on your network. Turn off permissions when they’re not needed, and disable the cameras and microphones on your devices when you’re not using them.

Photo: iStock/PhonlamaiPhoto.