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The Smart Approach to Internet-of-Things Security

If you’re like us, you love that your home is getting smarter thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT). Smart locks tell you who’s coming and going. Smart cameras let you look in on your home from anywhere. Smart thermostats can cut your heating bill by 10 per cent or more. There’s a lot to love.

With that said, 50% of potential IoT users say they don’t want to buy IoT enabled devices because they’re worried about security. And you know what? That’s totally fair. Security has been a sore point for IoT devices, with a major attack this year attributed to bad IoT security.

A few simple steps are all you need to keep your IoT devices safe from hackers. Here’s how.

Tip One: Change Your WiFi Password

If you only do one thing from this list, make it this. Don’t use your router’s out-of-the-box password. Change the password when you set up your WiFi. By the way, we have some thoughts on good passwords.

Tip Two: Know What’s Connected In Your House

Make a list of every connected thing you have, from computers to tablets to consoles to thermostats to cameras, and keep the list with your router. Aside from serving as a reminder of what’s connected, having a list will help you keep track of software updates and help you ensure that the devices your router says are connected are actually supposed to be there.

Tip Three: Password-Enable Everything

Each device and account you have needs a password. Leaving something without a password is like leaving a lock off of one of your doors. Oh, and we have some thoughts on securing your online accounts.

Tip Four: Consider Using a Separate IoT Network

Everyone in the house should know the WiFi password. But not everyone in the house needs access to your entire IoT setup, including cameras, thermostat, locks, and more. If you have a lot of IoT enabled devices, consider putting them on a separate network. Most routers can set up multiple networks. While you’re at it, make a guest network with it’s own separate password. That way your guests (or your kid’s friends) can connect their smartphones to your WiFi but won’t be able to access anything else.

Tip Five: Secure Your Smartphone

If your WiFi network is your home’s gate, then your smartphone is your key. After all, most IoT devices rely on an app you run from your smartphone. If you have an iPhone, enable Find My iPhone. If you’re on Android, enable Android Device Manager. Make sure your smartphone has a cloud-based backup. And a password or PIN on your device is important. 

Tip Six: Update Immediately

Don’t skip or delay security updates for any of your devices. If a security update has been issued, you can bet hackers are trying to take advantage of whatever security gap the update is trying to close. Many devices have settings that automatically update software.

Tip Seven: Make Rules for Your Kids

Young children need to be supervised when using the Internet and devices that are part of the Internet of Things are no different. They need to understand how to be safe when using the Internet, and they especially need to understand that vigilance is most important when they’re using a device with a camera or a microphone. Explain to them that, just as they wouldn’t be careless with a house key, they shouldn’t be careless when it comes to Internet security. 

The Bottom Line

The Internet of Things is perfectly safe as long as you take the same precautions you already do with your computers, tablets, and smartphones. It really comes down to enabling passwords, being consistent about enabling device security, and updating when required. The rest is just a healthy sense of caution.