How to keep your smart home devices secure from hackers

The FBI Is Warning That Your Smart Home Devices Aren’t Secure. Here’s What You Should Do About It

A string of warnings about smart home vulnerability means that its time for a refresher course on keeping your network and devices safe.

You may have heard that the FBI is warning people about their smart TVs, smart speakers, and smart home devices in general. Just last week, the Portland Field Office issued two notices warning people that they may be susceptible to hackers through these devices since they often lack the same level of security features found on computers or smartphones.

In fact, most of the smart home devices you connect to your router have almost no security at all, which means it’s important to take steps to secure your home network as a whole. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to strengthen your security.

Use Encryption on Your WiFi Router

You wouldn’t believe how many people leave their wireless router open to the public. Considering your WiFi is the entry to your home network, it would be like leaving your front door unlocked and open for anyone to walk in. I think we can all agree that’s a bad idea. Instead, use encryption such as WPA2, and use a secure password.

Also, change the name for a router to something that isn’t associated with your name or your address. That makes it harder for would-be hackers to pinpoint your location based on the name of your network. Also, it should go without saying, but let’s just say it: never, ever, ever use the default name or password for any device.

Create a Guest Network

Most of us are notoriously bad at keeping our passwords secure. That’s true of our Netflix account, and it’s true of our home WiFi. Instead, most of the routers you can by today allow you to create a “guest network” that doesn’t allow access to the devices on your secure network. That means your friends can get online without running the risk that anyone can access your smart home.

The key is to make sure to use a different strong password for this network. Some routers, like the NetGear ORBI allow you to set an expiration for a guest network session, which provides an added layer of security.

Turn Off Direct Print

WiFi-enabled printers, like many HP models, include a handy feature called Direct Print. This creates an SSID broadcast directly from the printer, allowing you to print directly to the printer without connecting to your WiFi network. The problem is, chances are, your printer is connected to your network. If you’re using AirPrint, for example, there’s really no reason to enable direct print, especially since it means that you’ve essentially left the back door of your network wide open for anyone to connect.

Use a Firewall

Just because your laptop uses a firewall doesn’t mean the rest of your network is secure. Many routers have a firewall you can turn on, but if you really want to be safe, you can purchase hardware options that can be placed between your modem and your WiFi access point. That prevents malicious data from coming in, or bad guys from accessing anything on your network.

The SonicWall SOHO and BitDefender Box 2 are both good home options that are easy to set up, but still give you control over your security settings. Even a firewall built into your WiFi router or modem is better than nothing.

Keep Your Gadgets Up to Date

Most of us pay attention to security updates on our iPhones or Android devices. We’re a little worse about our laptops, but at least recognize that it’s probably a good idea to keep those up to date. Did you know most of your internet-connected devices could use an update every once in a while?

Some, like Google’s smart speakers or Nest thermostats and cameras, will automatically check for updates on their own. They’ll download and install them without you having to do anything. Others, like your smart TV, probably need you to update them manually. You should. Set yourself a reminder each month to check for important security updates.

|By Jason AtenWriter and business coach@jasonaten

INC