Over 50% of homes in the United States are expected to fall under the umbrella of being a “smart home” by the year 2021. The smart home industry is moving at a rapid fire pace, and in turn, so are hackers. So, while homeowners are making their own lives easier with more connected devices, they are also making the lives of insidious hackers easier as well.
Thieves are no longer looking to break into your home via a smashed window. And they are no longer watching houses from unmarked vans to determine the best time for a break-in. No. Now they use inconspicuous phishing scams to steal usernames and passwords from unprepared homeowners. And the worst part is that this new kind of break-in can go undetected until severe damage has been done. Residents are no longer at risk for just losing valuable material goods; they are also at risk of losing everything. Even their identity.
Luckily, there are steps that can be taken to prevent this new era of break-ins. Un-luckily, most folks are not well-versed in the subject. That’s why we put together some basic steps you can take to keep you home and your devices secure.
3 Steps to Protect the Security of your Network & Devices
Get Real with Your Passwords
Since it is 2018, we are sincerely hoping hat you aren’t still using “password” as your password. If you are using reputable companies for your online transactions, you probably aren’t even allowed to use a character only password and that is a good thing.
Here’s the latest: Secure passwords should be MORE than 6-digits, contain letters AND numbers, upper AND lower case, AND include at least one NON-Alphanumeric value.
Got it? Good.
Well, almost good.
If you are serious about protecting your entire identity then you need a multi-factor authenticator. Check out a service like Last Pass, which requires a two-step authentication process to access login information. Last Pass will store all of your logins and passwords securely. However, in order to retrieve that information, you need to enter your master password on one device and authenticate that login attempt on a secondary device. You might think that sounds like a hassle but it is actually very user-friendly and absolutely worth the two extra seconds it will take you.
Secure your Router
Everything in your home, especially your smart home, relies on your Wi-Fi router… essentially making it the central operating hub of your home. If a hacker can hack into your router, you may as well count every other device as lost. The first and most obvious step is to change the default settings your router was setup with. These credentials are PUBLIC RECORD. Yikes.
After the credentials are updated, you will want to enable the Wi-Fi Protected Access II encryption. If you are unsure how to do this, you aren’t alone among homeowners. A quick Google search on enabling your WPA2 + your router type should bring the directions right up. You can take that a step further by updating the firmware of your router. Again, best to start with a Google search on how to go about this with your specific router.
No, really. Updates to your devices AND your apps do not exist to simply aggravate you. In fact, they often involve updates to the programming that are a direct result of a possible security vulnerability. And here’s the thing, your devices and operating systems are not going to update themselves; they rely on you for that. Keep your network, router, PC, smartphone, smartphone apps and tablets updated at all times!
If you don’t think you can handle this, then look for devices, appliances and operating systems that push updates automatically.
These basic steps only scratch the surface of measures you can take to keep your home safe, but are an essential place to get started to protect yourself from the quietest, smartest thieves this generation has ever seen.