Smart home devices can be a lot of fun, and they can sure make life easier. It’s frankly amazing what smart home devices can do – for example, smart bulbs can provide you with lighting in millions of colors and white light in a range of cool and warm tones. But Internet of Things (IoT) devices connect to the internet, which means they can create points of vulnerability in your network. More things connected means more things that can be hacked.
And many smart devices can be hacked easily. Research by Euroconsumers has found that smart TVs, smart baby monitors, robot vacuum cleaners, video doorbells, smart security systems and cameras, and smart garage door openers are all hackable. Researchers found a total of 54 vulnerabilities in 16 devices studied. And if a hacker is able to take control of one of your smart home devices, he or she may be able to access other devices on the network, including your smartphone or laptop, where you keep your sensitive personal and financial information.
How can you protect yourself? Keep your wifi network password-protected and change your router’s admin password from the default, too. It can help to keep your IoT devices segregated on a separate wifi network from your laptops and phones. Enable multi-factor authentication for your smart device logins, and make sure you keep your firmware updated.
Password-Protect Your Wifi Network
The first thing you need to do when you’re setting up your home wireless network is change the network password. Changing your default network password is the absolute bare minimum you can do to keep hackers off your network. If you don’t change the default password, hackers will be able to look up your password online and log into your network from a car parked on the street. While you’re changing your password, see if you can change your network’s service set identifier (SSID) too.
Change Your Router’s Default Admin Credentials
Your router has also come with a set of default admin credentials that allow you to log into the device itself and tinker with your network security settings. Go to your router’s default IP address and login into the router admin dashboard using your default credentials. If you’re not sure what they are, search for your router’s brand name and model plus the words “default credentials.” Change your default credentials – especially your password. While you’re in there, turn on your network’s firewall and make sure you’re using the WPA3 security protocol.
Separate Your IoT Devices from the Others
Most wifi routers allow you to set up a guest network, and it can be a good idea to keep your IoT devices separated from your laptop and smartphones by running them on a guest network. That way, if someone gains control of one of your IoT devices, they won’t be on the same network as your laptops, tablets, and smartphones, so they won’t be able to access any of those devices. This just adds an extra layer of protection for your sensitive data.
Enable Multi-Factor Authentication
You should use a unique password for each one of your IoT devices. If you use the same password for all, a hacker that cracks one password now has access to all of your IoT devices. And woe is you if you reuse your banking or email password on an IoT app. You can use a password manager to keep track of all your passwords. A good paid antivirus suite should come with a built-in password manager, so there’s no need to download a second program if you already use an antivirus.
Make sure you enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) on your IoT devices, too. This way, when you try to log in to a device’s app, you’ll have to verify it’s you by putting in a code sent to your phone number or email. It’s a bit of a pain, but it can keep hackers out of your network and alert you if someone is trying to break in.
Keep Your Firmware Up to Date
Manufacturers are pushing out updates all the time to make IoT devices more secure, so make sure you set your devices to auto-update. That way you’ll be getting critical fixes and new features as soon as they’re available, and your chances of getting hacked will be lower.
Is your smart home vulnerable? It is if you’re not taking steps to secure it. Keep your whole network safe – lock down your smart home devices.