Internet-connected devices or Internet of Things (IoT) devices can take many forms, from smart speakers to smart thermostats and refrigerators. They can bring with them many enhancements in convenience and entertainment – but they can also sometimes pose security risks. IoT Devices can not only collect and maintain important data about you and your family that should be kept private, but they can also act as insecure gateways into your home network. However, there are certain measures that you should implement when connecting additional smart devices that can help lower your security risks. Here are some of the measures recommended by cybersecurity companies and the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cyber Awareness System that you can use to keep your family safe.
Start with a Secure Network
If you’re connecting new IoT devices to a network, you need to make sure that your network foundation is secure. That starts with the security of your Wi-Fi router. Here are some tips to secure your router before you connect additional devices (that could share data about you):
- Name the router: Though all routers come with a default name and password you should change these when you set it up to something personal to you but not easily guessed.
- Create a guest network for visitors: Creating a guest network allows you to hand a password out to your friends when they visit without potentially compromising your network by giving access to their devices. This practice lowers the chances that the password falls into the wrong hands You should also consider creating a separate network only for your connected devices so that your main network doesn’t have access to all of the data stored in these devices.
- Don’t Connect on Public Wi-Fi: If you’re using connected devices, you should be wary of accessing them while your phone or other device is on a public Wi-Fi network. If you’re out at a coffee shop and want to open your door via your smart lock, for example, you could be exposing your IoT device on an unsecure network.
Better Understand Your Default Settings
Many devices come with default settings that could benefit the company that created it, but make your device data less secure. It’s a good practice to review and customize your settings before connecting to your network. If you disable features that don’t benefit you or that you don’t need, you can make your overall network more secure
One example of these company default settings is remote access. If you don’t need remote access for one of your connected devices (such as smart lights), it might be better to disable that setting (which is usually set by default).
Review for Security Updates or Technology Upgrades
Another way that you can protect your IoT devices is by keeping them updated. To do this, you should:
- Update your Device Security Regularly: Regularly update security with security patches provided by the companies that make your devices. For these devices, the risk is two-fold: devices and appliances that are connected to the Internet could be manipulated and someone could take advantage of security vulnerabilities with these products as a way to gain access to and/or exploit your network.
- Keep your Phone Operating System Patched as Well: Patching security and updates is not only important for the individual IoT devices, but it’s also important for your mobile device because your smartphone is typically the way you access or control many connected devices.
- Take a Hard Look at Current Devices on Your Network: Reviewing for security updates also includes doing a review of your current IoT device models and determining if there are new models to which you can upgrade. For example, old technology like security cameras could make up the more insecure parts of your network in which a vulnerability could occur.
Two Factor Authentication
Two Factor Authentication (2FA) makes it impossible for someone with only your password to log into your devices. 2FA uses a second factor (such as a code sent to your cellphone or email) to identify you and provide you with access. Though we’ve mentioned the importance of two-factor authentication before in computer networks – it’s also essential to mention it here. Many new devices allow you to set 2FA by default, ensuring a greater barrier to entry for anyone attempting to access your devices or network.
IoT devices can provide convenience and entertainment in our lives and can even save us money. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take precautions to make sure we’re installing new technology thoughtfully and securely in our homes. Even taking just a few of these steps could mean that your home network and data remains secure.