How to keep your personal information secure when using smart home devices
We use smartphones and tablets for everything, from banking to sharing photos of our families — and generally speaking, most of us know how to keep them pretty secure. But security might not be so top of mind when it comes to devices like smart fridges and thermostats. After all, what kind of hacker cares about what you’re having for dinner or how cool you keep your condo? The reality is, someone who hacks into a seemingly boring device or appliance could find out a lot about you and access information you might not want to share. Consider these tips to keep your personal information safe and secure when you’re using smart home technology:
- Run your smart home devices on a separate network. You probably use your home’s main Wi-Fi network to run devices like your phone and laptop, which hold lots of personal information. Isolating your smart home devices on a separate network could prevent a hacker from accessing your main network — and the personal info stored on your phone and computer. Ask your internet provider to help you set up a guest network specifically for your smart home devices.
- Install security software on the devices you use to control your smart home devices. This can help prevent a hacker from gaining access to your home and information through an easily hackable app on your phone or tablet.
- Choose a unique username and password for each device. Take the “vanity plate” approach for your passwords, using a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols to spell out a word. You should also avoid using any information that could be used to identify you, like your name, address, or contact information. Update your username and password as soon as you get a new device — never use the default settings, as they could be easier for a hacker to figure out.
- Turn off cameras and microphones when you’re not using them. Many smart TVs, speakers, and other similar devices have cameras and microphones that can record you unknowingly if they’re hacked. When you aren’t using the camera and microphone functions on a device, turn them off in the settings menu.
- Update your devices as recommended. Manufacturers of internet-connected devices will often release updates that are intended to fix bugs and improve your security. If you miss one of these updates, you could be missing out on an important fix for a security issue, leaving you vulnerable to potential threats.
- Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible. If a device or website allows you to enable two-factor authentication, it means you’ll need to take two steps to log in (like entering a password and entering a security code you receive on your mobile phone, for example). This makes it tougher for hackers to access your accounts.
- Turn off geolocation tracking when not in use. If you wear a fitness tracker or other device that tracks your location, consider turning off the location settings when you don’t need to use them. If a hacker knows where you are at any given time, it could put your safety at risk. A hacker could also use your location to decide when might be a good time to break into your home.
While taking these steps can be extremely helpful when it comes to protecting your personal security, it can be tough to keep up with professional hackers. The good news is, if you’re a victim of identity theft, your home insurance policy could help cover some of the costs that might follow. While specific coverage varies, it can include things like legal fees, the cost of sending certified mail, and lost wages for days you had to take time off work to deal with the issue. To find out how your own home, tenant, or condo insurance policy could protect you in the event of identity theft, reach out to your group’s licensed broker today.
To learn more about the Internet of Things (including smart home devices) and how you can protect your security, check out this helpful guide from the Government of Canada.
Want to help your friends protect their security when using smart home devices? Share these tips on Facebook or Twitter.