Does your home include a smart speaker? An intelligent thermostat? A connected lock or video doorbell? For more and more of us, devices like those—everything from Internet-connected video cameras to door locks and kitchen appliances—are making our homes smarter and easier to manage. But while such smart home gear can provide a world of convenience and capabilities, they do have one potential downside: They can also be vulnerable to security threats.
Unless they’re properly managed, smart home devices could, in theory, be taken over by bad actors to do things such as overriding your security system. Poorly protected devices could also give attackers access to the rest of your home network—and, therefore, to your data.
“Securing your smart home devices is probably the most important thing you can do, next to installing a smart security system in the first place,” says Mark Demler, Operations Manager for AAA Smart Home Security. “If you don’t secure these devices, it makes it all too easy for a digital intruder to get into your home.”
Here are five ways you can secure your smart home gear.
1. Lock down your router and Wi-Fi network.
One way or another, your router is the brains behind all of the technology in your home, including your smart home devices. And if it’s not secure, nothing is secure.
“Make sure your router is the most up-to-date, secure router you can get,” says Demler. “If your router isn’t secure, you’re vulnerable to attack, whether it’s from a distance or from the street in front of your house.” Demler says that if your router is more than two years old, you should replace it.
Also ensure your router’s software is up-to-date and that the administrator password is strong. (See below for more on password security.) “Even if you have the best password in the world, older routers can easily be hacked,” says Demler. If you don’t know how to do that, check your router’s documentation.
Similarly, keep your Wi-Fi network secured with a good password in order to keep interlopers from jumping aboard uninvited. Some experts even suggest that you configure a separate, secondary Wi-Fi network in your home, with an entirely different name, just for your smart home gear. That could prevent bad guys from using access to those smart home devices to attack the data on your computers, phones, and tablets.