5 Tips to Protect Your Smart Home From Hackers

Although smart homes have made daily life easier, they also pose some serious risks for your security. By following these tips, you can protect your smart home and keep hackers out of your security and property. 

Tiffany Rowe, Seek Visibility (Partner)
3-minute read

These days, most people have at least some smart home gadgets in their house. Some professionals are also starting to fill up their offices with internet-connected devices. While these products can offer us lots of time and stress savings, not to mention be fun to use, they do have some potential risks we need to be aware of.

For example, with hackers noting how many millions of people now have smart home gear in their property, more and more are taking to targeting these devices to break into systems and homes. To protect yourself from this, it’s important to take steps to stay safe. Read on for some simple yet effective ways you can keep hackers at bay today.

1. Buy Quality Brands When Shopping for Products

Firstly, you can work to protect yourself right at the time you initially buy your smart home products. When comparing options, it pays to look at trusted brands, as these typically have a bigger focus on security and can therefore be less hackable than products produced by other manufacturers.

Big names that have been around for many years tend to have more resources to put into security measures in the design and manufacturing phases, as well as more concern for their businesses if issues do occur, which increases their vigilance.

2. Change the ID Settings on Your Devices

Once you’ve bought your devices, you also need to update the ID settings, which come already set up on them. Most manufacturers ship out their products with default usernames and passwords and then provide guidelines for changing these details in their instruction manuals. However, many people don’t bother running these updates, a fact which hackers take advantage of.

Cybercriminals realize many people won’t take the time to change settings, and hackers can simply look up default credentials on forums or manufacturer websites or other public spaces. From there, they can conduct scans in your area and see the ID name of the manufacturer coming up on a list of nearby connected devices. When this happens, they’ll see you haven’t made any security updates and straight away know the password they need to input to gain access to the device. Avoid leaving yourself vulnerable to attacks like this by changing settings ASAP.

3. Protect Your Wi-Fi

Another protective step to take is stopping hackers from accessing your wireless internet. Since smart gadgets are connected to the internet all the time, cybercriminals realize they have a way of getting into devices through your Wi-Fi. Keep them at bay by password-protecting your connection, so no one in the area can simply step into your network.

Anyone who wants to use your internet should have to input a password to access the service. This code needs to be a good one, too. It should be at least eight characters in length and made up of a variety of characters, such as numbers, symbols, and letters (both upper-case and lower-case). Don’t use details you’ve shared publicly online as the basis for your codes, either. For example, avoid pet or children’s names, addresses, birthdates, and the like.

4. Use Security Software

Next, install security software onto your computers, tablets, and smartphones—any devices you use to control your smart home products. You need to protect these gadgets from hackers so they can’t break into them and from there, get access to your smart home devices.

Choose quality software that covers against a wide variety of threats. For example, you’ll want protection against ransomware, spam, and malware, as well as something that incorporates virus and spyware removal if you do get stung by an attack. Adding firewalls also helps, as these add another layer of security.

5. Keep Everything Up to Date

Another way to go the extra mile to protect yourself and your family is to ensure you regularly update the software, firmware, and drivers on your various internet-connected gadgets. Unfortunately, most smart home products won’t actually update themselves automatically, so you need to set reminders to check for, and run, updates yourself. Do this monthly, via the smartphone app you use to control your devices or other methods depending on manufacturer instructions.

Even if you have just-purchased items, do a quick check to see if any updates are available for them. While you might think this isn’t necessary since they’re new, remember that they’re only new to you; they might have been sitting in the store or another warehouse for many months, or even years, first. In that time, numerous updates may have become available.