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Protecting your smart home devices

Smart Home Devices

Internet-connected devices such as Amazon Echo and other Alexa-enabled gadgets, smart TVs and security cameras, have changed our lives for the better, bringing convenience and many other benefits. However, there have been concerns around the security of smart devices and with more people working from home, this raises questions about whether information stored on them can be easily accessed by cyber criminals.

Connected to the internet, any device is vulnerable to attack – but following the suggestions below can help you keep your smart home safe and your data protected.

Don’t use default account information

If you’re setting up a new device, don’t use the account name or password set up for you – one of the first things hackers look for is a list of default usernames. Changing these straight away (and frequently for passwords) will help prevent you being an easy target.

Many devices will also allow you to set up your own pin, to access settings or for online purchases. If your device offers multi-factor or two-factor authentication, turn it on – it makes it much harder for criminals to access your online account, even if they do know your password.

Check app permissions

Some smart home devices will collect data about how you use them – this is often used for targeted advertising, but Amazon recently came under fire for storing voice interactions on Alexa devices even after they were deleted. This data is at risk of being stolen and used for malicious intent. A top tip is to look into the device settings and deny or turn off any app permissions that you won’t be using such as location services or Bluetooth.

Unlink your devices

One of the biggest benefits of smart home devices is that they can talk to each other, but this can work against your security.

When you sell a device, give it away or it stops working, make sure to unlink it from the rest of your smart home devices so a hacker can’t use it as a back door into your system. If you get a new smartphone, it’s worth removing the smart device apps from your old phone too, this way your data isn’t accessible by the new owner.

Unplug or mute devices

One of the easiest things you can do is completely unplug the device while working, or at least turn off the microphone on the device. Some devices, including Amazon’s Echo Show, have a slider which can switch off and cover the camera.

Always use a secure connection

Using a public or shared Wi-Fi network with your device is not recommended and could expose you to security threats. You may also use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt your Internet access – this masks your IP address to keep your data, location and internet usage private.

A good idea is to set up a guest network that visitors or friends can log into, a separate network that doesn’t link to your smart devices and keeps your Wi-Fi account private.

Keep them updated

If you’re notified to update your phone or smart device software, don’t put off installing it. Your IoT devices are often connected to your phone via an app, so always check for updates and download to your device to help stay safe. Most updates include upgraded security and privacy so it’s always worth checking if you need to install one. Devices that are not regularly updated are more vulnerable to malware, ransomware, and other security threats.

Cut down on plug-in features

Do you really need all those extras? On some devices, like an Amazon Alexa, you can download extra functions or features that usually come from a third-party. But these can increase your exposure to attack. If you’re already packed your device full of them, keep only plug-ins that you actually use and need. Then remember to delete those you don’t use on a regular basis.

Where you can, install security software on your devices and pay attention to updates or issues from the manufacture. It’s inevitable that as smart devices upgrade, so will the methods used by cyber criminals, so it’s worth thinking about the things you can do to add an extra layer of security and taking sensible precautions will ensure you can enjoy the many great benefits of your device.

Contact us for more information about the security measures you can implement.