How to Secure Your Smart Home Devices

From fridges with internet connectivity to voice activated devices that can control your lights, thermostat, and more, smart home devices are fast gaining popularity. Nearly half of all Australians have at least one Internet connected smart home device in their home, and this figure is set to grow: In July 2020, Tech AU reported that 2 in 5 Australians are more likely than before to purchase a smart home device in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Across this backdrop, it’s clear that smart home security is more relevant than ever. Learning how to secure your smart home against potential cyber attacks is a critical first step in preventing your personal data from falling into the wrong hands. To explain how to protect your smart home from jackers and more, we’ve teamed up with the cyber security experts at ESET. Read on for their take on cyber safety in the age of the Internet of Things and discover their smart home security tips.

Understanding the Internet of Things

Before diving into the benefits and risks of the “Internet of Things” - and how to mitigate them - it’s important to understand the basics. In its simplest form, the term “Internet of Things” describes every device that is connected to the Internet and capable of communicating with one another. Whether they’re fridges, smart watches, remote vacuums, or smart speakers, smart home devices looped into the same network send and receive plenty of data online everyday. This data includes everything from your security credentials to your preferences in terms of lighting and temperature conditions, music, and your choice of browser.

The result? A seamless home environment that can be perfectly calibrated to suit your preferences and your lifestyle. While the connectivity enabled by the Internet of Things has made everyday life more convenient for thousands of people around the world, it’s not without its downsides. Many smart home devices lack the rigorous cyber security mechanisms, making them an easy target for cyber attackers.

In November 2019, the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Cyber Security Centre recognised the risk posed by insecure smart devices and introduced a voluntary code for the manufacturers of such devices to adhere to. In addition to providing timely updates and ensuring that user-configured preferences are left intact, the code prevents the use of the same factory default password across multiple devices and mandates the disclosure of any security vulnerabilities as they come to light.

4 ways to ensure smart home device security

While the aforementioned code has helped reduce some of the risks associated with smart home devices, the onus for securing smart home devices largely remains on the user. Given that the average Australian household owns 17 devices that are connected to the Internet, learning even the most fundamental cyber security measures is essential. Find out 4 tips for preventing smart home devices security issues below.

1. Secure your Wifi

The first step in securing smart home devices is also one of the most basic cyber security practices: Securing your WiFi. Ensuring that your home WiFi is protected with a unique password that is difficult to guess can prevent unauthorised users from gaining access to the information stored on your devices.

2. Set strong passwords

On the topic of passwords, it’s imperative that you practice good password hygiene when setting login credentials for all your devices, not just your WiFi and router. For the highest level of protection, we recommend setting a unique password for each device and storing these using a password manager.

3. Disable settings you don’t need

While it can be tempting to take your new device out of the box and get it online straight away, resist the urge to do so. Before you set and forget your device, take a closer look at the default settings and turn off any that you don’t need. Many smart TVs, for example, come with a voice input feature that’s enabled as a default, and may be used to listen into conversations in the event of a cyber attack. If you plan on using your remote control, disable this feature from the get-go.

4. Keep your software up to date

As with most forms of tech, it’s important to keep the software on your smart home devices up to date. Outdated software and firmware can create loopholes that cyber criminals can take advantage of and slip through. To prevent this, always download and install the latest software as soon as possible.

Get smart about your smart home security

While smart home devices and the Internet of Things have undoubtedly made modern life easier and more convenient, they should always be used with care and consideration. Taking the steps to secure your devices from the moment you take them out of the box can save you a lot of hassle down the line, and can make use of these devices safer and more enjoyable for everyone.

In addition to following our smart device security tips above, consider installing ESET Internet Security or ESET Smart Security Premium on your home devices. To learn more about these cyber security solutions and which is best for you, contact ESET today!

This post was published in collaboration with ESET.
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