As we rely more heavily on technological integration to satisfy our everyday needs and comforts, we inherently assume greater security risks and leave ourselves more vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches. Learn what you can do to keep your devices, information, and home safe from hackers.
Internet of Things Devices
From smart televisions to smart speakers that can control your lights and thermostats, more and more of our lives and home features can now be seamlessly managed by smart technology. For these to work together, they have to be connected to the internet and shared data, a system commonly referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT). Despite their convenience, these IoT devices often lack basic protective measures from outside interference given that their design prioritizes connectivity over security.
When these devices are left unprotected, there is almost nothing stopping those with malicious intent from taking advantage of you. Use these tips to develop a security plan that can keep the things you value safe.
Tips to Protect Your Home & Business
Protecting your devices from unauthorized access requires that the device itself and your internet connections are secure.
Internet Security Starts With The Router
Your internet router is the point of connection to the internet for any IoT device, so starting the security upgrade there is the first step to take. Start by changing the name of your router to make it difficult for hackers to identify the brand and its potential vulnerabilities. Avoid using names that give away information about the user such as your address or last name, which is information that can be exploited by those with malicious intent. Ideally, your router should be capable of creating a virtual private network (VPN), a connection that encrypts your data and masks your IP address to ensure your actions and location are virtually untraceable. If your router does not have VPN software already installed, search online for step-by-step guides that detail how you can set one up. Once the router is protected, create two networks with unique passwords to keep others from having access to the devices. The best practice is to have your connected devices on a separate network from the one your family and guests connect to on their devices. Both networks should have strong passwords that are difficult to guess and have a WPA2 security protocol. Remember not to include identifying information that would tell hackers what purpose each network serves.
Change The Password
Passwords are the most basic defense against attacks, but keeping the default password for a device or creating a generic password can render this layer of security ineffective. Take the time to give each device a unique and random password. An easy way to update your passwords is to use a password manager that can help you create long passwords that contain a variety of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. The password manager keeps your passwords safe with its security features while enabling you to retrieve those complex passwords when you need it.
Disable Features You Won’t Use
IoT devices often contain features and settings that you may not need or ever use. Review the device settings and determine what you need and what you don’t. It can be tempting to leave everything on as an option, but the more features that are enabled the more time your device spends activated, so limit the usage of smart devices to only those features that are essential to your purposes. The connectivity of IoT devices to one another and apps also creates a security risk, so be aware of what permissions outside apps have and limit them to only what is needed for the features you want to use.
Keep Your Devices Updated
Like any phone app or other software you use, your devices’ firmware needs to be updated regularly to maintain safe and efficient functionality. The process to update firmware will vary by device, but taking the time to check for updates periodically and installing them on your device when available can give you bug fixes from the developer or expanded features that up security. Always double-check that you are installing the proper firmware on a device because the wrong firmware will leave your device inoperable.
Remote Work Cyber Security
These tips not only apply to your IoT devices but can also apply to other areas like working from home, work emails and logins, and app passwords. Strengthening your home network security and using a VPN keeps your employer’s information safe whenever you bring work home with you, as a breach on your home network can create vulnerabilities in your work network. Take an assessment of your digital world to see what areas could benefit from upgraded security practices.