How to Keep Your Smart Home Secure in 2020

It’s the beginning of a new decade. And with a new decade comes new and exciting advancements, especially in terms of smart home-related technology.

Although smart home technology has been around for a while, it’s only going to continue to increase in popularity and usage across the world.

Why? Because having a “smart home” is new, cool, somewhat affordable, and, most importantly, convenient.

After all, why would you take the time and effort to turn your car around when you’re on your way to the store to check to see if your doors are locked when you could just lock your doors with one tap of a finger on your phone?

It’s safe to say that smart home technology is only going to get more advanced as time goes on. The past decade is definite proof of that. But with more technology comes more opportunity for data exposure.

Although we don’t have overpowering, mother-like artificial intelligence controlling our home and holding us hostage like in the 1999 Disney Channel movie, Smart House, our current smart home technology does pose some major risks that many are unaware of.

When you think of smart home technology, you likely don’t think of all the ways hackers can get control of your devices, appliances, etc. After all, what could hackers gain from accessing your smart home tech?

Well, they can get more than you might think.

white smart phone with control setting, smart home technology

Why Hackers Target Your Smart Home Technology

Smart home tech is all about connection, and that connection is usually made via your home’s Wi-Fi or internet-based servers. Basically, once something is connected to the internet, there’s a greater chance of it becoming more hackable.

The risk doesn’t stop there. In fact, when you have multiple connected devices in your home and one connected piece of smart home tech gets compromised, the rest of your connected tech is immediately put at risk as well.

Now, why would someone want to target your smart home tech? There are a couple of reasons.

For starters, hackers can get their hands on more important and sensitive information if they can find a way in via any of your home’s IoT/smart devices. Even your smart fridge or a Wi-Fi-based security camera within your home can have sensitive data on it.

And, as we mentioned, once a connected device within your home is accessed by an unauthorized party, you and your family’s personal security could be at great risk because your entire system could then be easily compromised.

In general, those who target your smart home tech servers and devices have the potential to access anything from important account information to actual footage of what is going on within your home. Not to mention, even your identity and your family’s identities could be stolen if you fail to secure your home’s IoT devices.

We all take the right steps to ensure our home’s structure and property, but unfortunately, your home could be vulnerable to attacks through pretty much every piece of active automated tech you have, including the following:

  • Smart appliances like your fridge, washer, and dryer, and oven
  • Indoor and outdoor security cameras
  • Smart light bulbs and light switches
  • Smart sprinklers
  • Smart door locks, thermostats, doorbells, and voice assistants (i.e. Google Home, Alexa)

And the list goes on . . .

black google home with black smart phone next to it, sitting on white table with white wall

What You Can Do to Protect Your Smart Home

Now that you know why and how an unauthorized party might target your smart home, let’s dive into the three steps that can help you better protect your home’s tech this year.

#1 – Secure your home’s wireless internet (WiFi) network and devices

First and foremost, you should make sure that your home’s WiFi network and various devices are secure. One thing you can do is use unique, strong passwords for everything.

When creating passwords, you may want to consider using unique phrases, number sequences, a mixture of capital letters, and symbols.

Additionally, you may want to use a secure password management service to keep track of the unique passwords you create. After you create your passwords, it’s important that you don’t use the same password for anything in the future and that you update/change all of your passwords regularly.

To secure your WiFi network even further, you can set up a guest network that your visitors can use (instead of having them log into your main private network). You can also take things a step further and use a strong encryption method when setting up the main WiFi network in your home.

#2 – Purchase new devices and hardware from reputable brands

Buying used tech might save you money, but it could cost you more in terms of security. For instance, if you buy a used security camera, you may not be the only one who has access to that camera’s footage.

In order to make sure your equipment and devices are reliable and secure, you may want to spend the extra money and buy new tech from reputable brands. Knowing where your smart tech and IoT devices are coming from can help you protect your home and family.

If you want to sell or get rid of your smart tech or devices, take the time to do a factory reset and clear all data that may be stored on them. This can help ensure that you don’t just give any data or information away to the next user.

#3 – Update your software (with caution)

Although it sounds simple, regularly updating your tech’s software could make all the difference. Software updates pop up for a reason. Generally, software updates are designed to improve your user experience, enhance your device security, and more. So it’s often a good idea to keep up with your software updates.

It is important to note, however, that some updates could present unwarranted issues and bugs. Before you do a software update for any of your devices, make sure to read what the update will change and take the time to do online research on the update. After all, no one wants to be the victim of a faulty update.

shelves with plant, television, smart home, books, wine bottles

The Bottom Line

Living in a smart home doesn’t mean that you can let your guard down. In fact, the more active you are in making sure your tech is secure and reliable, the better. After all, keeping your home and family safe should be the main priority.

Although embracing technological change and introducing new tech into your home can be a great way to take a step into the future, don’t forget the risks that can come with advanced tech. Following the steps above, educating yourself on what vulnerabilities can come from smart home tech, and exercising caution can help you stay one step ahead of cybercriminals in this modern world.


Author bio:

Alayna Okerlund is the senior identity theft content manager at BestCompany.com.


Tags: