Your nifty Internet of Things gadgets are still vulnerable to hacks. Here's how to secure them.
While most of our beloved smart products have been designed to streamline our responsibilities and make life easier, they’re still vulnerable to the odd security breach from time
While most of our beloved smart products have been designed to streamline our responsibilities and make life easier, they’re still vulnerable to the odd security breach from time to time. From old passwords to unsecured Wi-Fi connections, there are a number of red flags that can leave our favourite Internet of Things (IOT) products like smart TVs, smart locks, security cameras, and even smart forks open to all kinds of cyber threats. Fortunately, there are a number of proactive steps you can take to secure your devices and keep your home safe from online threats.
Embrace being unique
OK, we know establishing and creating unique passwords can be a pain in the bum — but it’s all worth it when you think about the time and energy you’ll save not freaking out about your online security. If you’re someone who tends to use the same passwords for all of your devices, you could be setting yourself up for a rude awakening down the line — especially if a security breach means your data is shared or compromised by a third party.
From your devices to your Facebook account and even your favourite online shopping destinations, each login needs its own unique password, or you'll be up 5h!t creek if any one of them suffers a data breach and shares your login details with the world.
If you don’t have the energy to create these on your own, why not head to a password managing site like Dashlane, which can automatically generate secure passwords that are then stored in an encrypted vault? Best of all, once you’re logged in, these password managers remember all your details, so you don’t have to worry about populating your login information yourself.
Switch off, rest and reboot
No, we’re not talking about self-care, but the concept isn’t that far off. One super simple way to keep your devices safe from the big, wide, web is by shutting down and hitting reboot every fortnight. In doing so, you’re ensuring each device is forced to download new privacy and security settings when they reconnect to the internet.
Keep in mind that this approach will only work for the devices or smart products that aren’t hardwired into your humble abode (lights, for example, will be hardwired).
And if you’re already committing to rebooting and updating your security settings and software, it might be time to also consider removing any unnecessary apps or integrations from your devices. Don’t use them anymore? Trash ‘em. Unnecessary features? Disable ‘em.
Take responsibility for your security
Let’s face it: No one’s going to care more about the security of your devices than you. To get started, take time to investigate whether access to your favourite products and devices can be controlled by two-factor authentication.
This isn't just a great way to ensure no one else can get their hands on your varying accounts, apps and information — it provides ongoing peace of mind with the simple press of a button. By enabling a two-factor authentication process, you’ll receive a one-off code whenever you try to log into certain apps.
This code will come through to you on a secondary device — perhaps your laptop or phone. You then plug this code into the original device and away you go. Yes, it can feel a little time-consuming or clunky if you’re in a rush, but hey, it’s the price we have to pay for wanting our devices and accounts to remain secure.
Invest in security packages tailored to your needs
Whether you use an iOS or Android device, or you’re a Windows or a MacOS fan, there are a number of innovative new products on the market that can help provide peace of mind when it comes to smart-connected devices. The Bitdefender Total Security 2020 package is one of these, and takes online security to the next level with a load of unique data privacy features like anti-trackers and microphone monitors.
It even has an advanced (but subtle) parental control feature and state-of-the-art anti-cyberbullying solutions for parents looking to boost the online safety of their children and family (an upgrade from their basic Parental Control feature). You’ll also receive a secure VPN for online privacy, multi-layer ransomware protection to keep your documents safe and threat detection, which stops sophisticated malware in its tracks.
For those of us with more devices than we know what to do with, the Bitdefender Family Pack 2020 is another game-changing option because it includes the features of the Total Security 2020 package, but can to protect up to 15 devices per household.
Don’t forget about your network
Last but by no means least, it’s important to remember your Wi-Fi network is essentially your first line of defence when it comes to protecting your smart-home products and devices. The purpose of these items rests entirely on their ability to connect to your network. With that in mind, ensuring your Wi-Fi network is secure should be on the top of your to-do list.
Sorry, but this is another example of the need to choose a unique password. If you’re still operating with the original password that came with your router or modem, change it. Tonight.
You might also want to rename your modem or router while you’re at it. The one you’re using could reveal the make and model of your device, which can open you up to all kinds of security threats. Instead, opt for a name that has nothing to do with your device, your address or your personal information — maybe even something snarky so your noisy neighbours get the message.
When you’re done, why not consider encrypting your Wi-Fi or establishing a guest network? That way you can log onto a network that isn’t linked to all the IoT products throughout your home.
Oh, and while you’re at it: Avoid accessing your smart devices and apps whenever you’re connected to public Wi-Fi. It’s just not worth the risk.