How to Keep Your Smart Home Devices Secure
Like any other computer, smart devices can be hacked and have their data—including your personal information, images, and live video feeds—accessed or stolen. Researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio recently found that even smart light bulbs have potential security risks that could leave them vulnerable to attack. If the device a hacker gains access to has no personal information, they can still use your home network to access data on other devices.
The most important way to protect your smart home network is to change the default passwords on each smart device. Gabe Turner, with the security review site Security Baron, says it's important to use unique, complicated, independent passwords. If they're hard to remember, use a password manager. Password managers store all of your passwords in a centralized, encrypted database that you access with a single master password. Turner says some password managers even use biometrics like fingerprint and facial recognition to make sure that only authorized users are accessing your accounts.
If your device allows, use multifactor authentication—an additional step that verifies your identity via a personalized code from a text or authentication app—to make it more difficult for someone to use your login credentials to gain access to your devices and data.
Suzanne Poirier, CTO of the insurance review site Clearsurance, says you should also remember to keep software on the devices you use to access your smart home network up-to-date. "This includes updating your phone’s operating system," she says. "Your phone is often used to manage these devices and updates often have security patches." She also suggests using a firewall, which is a security system that blocks unauthorized access to your home internet.
Smart devices first started appearing in homes more than five years ago with the launch of smart thermostats and speakers. Now smart homes are made up of an intricate network of connected devices. Just by adding a few devices—like a thermostat or security doorbell—you can save money, energy, and time as well as feel safe and secure in your home.