This year, there will be 6.4 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices in use — a 30% jump from 2015. But all of this advanced and integrated technology leaves room for potential security threats like malware and hackers. Whether you use one smart device or dozens, boost the safety of your Internet of Things with these 10 essential security tips.
1. Understand What’s Connected
Before you can secure your devices, you have to know what is susceptible to an attack. The average home has five connected devices, omitting computers, tablets, and smartphones. Note your home’s connected devices — including media players, game consoles, and anything with a camera or microphone — and verify what information each has access to.
2. Create Passwords For All Accounts and Devices
Every smart device you manage through an Internet-based account should be protected with a strong username and password that includes a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using the same password for all accounts — otherwise, if a hacker manages to get in, they’ll have access to your all devices and accounts.
3. Don’t Use Insecure Internet Connections
When you check on your smart devices remotely from your smartphone or tablet, don’t use any Wi-Fi that isn’t password protected. Insecure connections can make your device exposed to hacking. To increase your personal network security, create strong passwords for your own router and Wi-Fi connections, and update them frequently.
4. Secure Your Smartphone
If you lost or misplaced your smartphone, a hacker could potentially access your personal information and smart devices. Mobile security programs can back up your data to an online account, track your device’s location, and remotely lock and wipe your entire phone. A password or PIN on the device itself can also provide another layer of defense.
5. Create a Separate Network for Your Devices
Many routers allow you to set up multiple networks. Consult your router’s manual to create at least one separate network for your IoT devices. The more segmented your networks are, the more difficult it is for hackers to access all of your information and devices.
6. Install a Firewall
A firewall helps prevent worms, viruses, and hackers from reaching your connected devices over the Internet by denying unauthorized traffic. Some computer systems offer a default firewall, which is adequate for many users. For an added layer of protection, install a firewall that offers more security functions that meet your needs, or configure a hardware firewall to offer wider network defense.
7. Update Security Patches
Smart devices frequently release system updates that address security flaws and user issues. Installing updates as they become available helps you stay more protected. Periodically check each device manufacturer’s website for updates or security announcements. Some devices even have a setting that will allow automatic update installation.
8. Disconnect Devices When They’re Not Being Used
Turn off any smart devices when you aren’t using them, particularly those with video cameras and microphones. While some connected devices, such as smart thermostats, require a constant Internet connection, other devices — including video cameras, coffee makers, and smart TVs — do not. Prevent a hacker from connecting to your audio or video streams by disconnecting when you can.
9. Amend Default Device Settings
Most smart devices and their ancillary apps feature adjustable privacy settings. Depending on your desired level of security, you can enable or disable certain connectivity features. If you are suspicious of any functions, like motion detection or voice control, turn them off. You can always switch them back on if you need those features at a later date.
10. Set Rules for Your Children
If your children will be using any connected smart devices, explain the risks of the Internet and teach them the importance of never sharing personal information online or with a stranger. Supervise their usage of any devices with cameras or microphones, including baby monitors. For even more security, disable all connectivity while your child is using the device.
The Internet of Things allows you to improve your home and simplify your living. As you’re setting up all of your favorite features, commit some time to increase the security of your devices as well. By taking precautions early, you can help prevent malicious attacks when it really matters.
Written by Sarah Brown
Originally posted on lifehack.org