5 Tips to Safely Connect Smart Devices at Home

5 tips

The Internet of Things (IoT) offers convenience but also security risks if you don’t take the right precautions. Follow these 5 tips to help secure the growing number of Internet-connected devices in your home.

  1. Change Default Passwords

When you first setup an Internet-connected device, it will often come with a preset default password that is identical across all units from the manufacturer. These default credentials are easily searchable online and provide an open door for attackers. As soon as you unpack and setup any smart device, take the time to change the username and password. Create a unique, strong password that uses upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Use a password manager to generate and store your credentials.

  1. Regularly Update Firmware

Manufacturers will periodically release firmware updates for devices to fix bugs and address security vulnerabilities that are discovered. But these updates only help if you install them! Set your devices to automatically update if possible, or periodically check the manufacturer website for any available updates. Updates may require temporarily disconnecting from the device’s mobile app as the new firmware installs. Staying current on the latest firmware guarantees you have patched all known holes used by hackers.

  1. Enable Firewalls

Your wireless router likely includes a basic firewall that provides some protection against unwanted access from outside your home network. Log into your router’s admin console and make sure this firewall is enabled. Also, see if your individual smart devices offer their own firewall options within settings. Turn these on as well for layered defense. Firewalls create rule-sets that block suspicious activity and segment your devices into smaller sub-networks for improved monitoring.

  1. Connect to a Guest Network

One simple approach to isolate smart devices is to connect them to a separate guest WiFi network rather than your main home network. Guest networks provide Internet access but keep devices apart from more sensitive equipment like computers and phones. Create a unique guest network on your wireless router, then connect smart devices separately. This segments your network and contains breaches, should a smart device become compromised.

  1. Encrypt WiFi Connections

Your home WiFi should always use modern WPA2 or WPA3 encryption, rather than the outdated WEP protocol or open unencrypted connections. WPA2/WPA3 uses sophisticated algorithms to encode traffic between your router and connected devices. This helps prevent packet sniffing or interception of unencrypted data. Check your router settings to enable WPA2 or the latest WPA3 encryption across both your main and guest wireless networks.

The convenience of controlling devices remotely through the Internet also provides new avenues for hackers. But following these common sense tips will help you manage IoT security risks and safely integrate the latest innovations into your connected home. Be proactive about device security, and your smart home will stay safe and under your control.

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