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How to Make Your Smart Home Safe

Smart technology promises to make your life better — and in many ways, it does. If you have a network of smart devices throughout your home, you can control your environment with your voice, doing everything from changing the music to raising the lights to locking the doors and more.

However, smart technology almost certainly also makes your life less secure. From the first releases of smart devices earlier this decade to now, the tools have been found to be riddled with vulnerabilities that hackers can easily identify and exploit. If you want to avoid giving someone else control of your home, here’s how to make your smart tech safe.

Understand How Hackers Get in and What Hackers Want

The best defense is a good defense, but you can only defend against digital attacks when you know where they are coming from. Cybercriminals tend to attack consumers like you in the easiest way possible; because your home network has only a limited amount of value — unlike corporate targets which can contain multitudes of prized data — attackers don’t want to waste too much time trying to hack into your system.

As a result, the ways hackers get in are relatively predictable, even when you factor in new technology like smart devices. Here are the most common ways attackers infiltrate your network:

  • Using known vulnerabilities. Over time, all software develops security gaps that hackers can exploit. IoT devices are particularly guilty of entering the market riddled with security issues. Many smart tools’ vulnerabilities are published online, for any fool to see and take advantage of.
  • Connecting to your network. Having unsecured Wi-Fi might be convenient for you — but it is also convenient for attackers, who can detect your signal from the street and gain access to all your devices.
  • Tricking you. Humans are by far the weakest link in home security. With relative ease, you can be manipulated to click a link, download a file or perform some other action that lets hackers waltz right in.

Now that you know how hackers will try to get into your system, you can set up fortifications that keep them at bay. The actions you should take include:

Updating Your IoT Firmware

As soon as you acquire any internet-connected device, you need to look for updates to its software and firmware. This is doubly true of IoT and smart tech, which is often rushed to market before developers can fully vet their code. Usually, you can find available updates through the smartphone app you use to control your devices, but you might also want to perform a quick web search if there seem to be no patches released.

Protecting Your Home Network

There are a few things you can do to make your home network a bit more secure. First, you should strongly consider acquiring a smart device manager. This is a plug-in security device that constantly scans your network for signs of attack and gives you greater control over your cadre of smart tools. If you do only one thing this list, purchasing a manager from a trustworthy security firm should be your priority.

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For added security, you might consider taking a few steps to make your Wi-Fi safer and stronger. For instance, if you have quite a few smart devices, you should create a second network through which these devices connect to the web; then, you can keep the data on your computer and smartphone totally separate from the most vulnerable tech in your home. Additionally, you should encrypt your Wi-Fi signal and — perhaps most importantly — change the network username and password from the default to something more unique. Anyone can find lists of router manufacturer’s default login info, and massive attacks using this strategy have been successful in the past. Simply by changing the network name, you can hide critical info about your router and make it more difficult for hackers to get in.

Train Your Tech

Finally, smart home devices are called “smart” for a reason: They can learn to behave differently in your home environment. It’s a good idea to train any voice-controlled devices to respond only to your voice, so strangers can’t unlock your doors or turn off your lights by shouting commands from the street. It’s also wise to schedule your tech to turn on and off during certain times of day; when you aren’t home, you won’t need most your smart tools to run, and by keeping them powered off, you reduce the likelihood of them being hacked.

The efficiency and convenience of a smart home is often outweighed by the insecurities that smart devices introduce to your network. However, by staying informed of the risks and taking steps to mitigate them, you can enjoy your smart tech and a safe home, too.

Getting smart trash can is a good way to make your home smart.

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