The Internet of Things (IoT) has a growing number of products that can help you have a smarter home.
But, even if you’re tempted by the high-tech convenience IoT gadgets offer, you might feel deterred by the consumers who worry these products could become targets for hackers.
The Internet Society and Consumers International recently conducted a study to understand more about how everyday individuals feel about smart home devices. Specifically, they wanted to determine what troubles people the most. The research found that more than half of the people polled did not trust the gadgets to keep their data secure. And, three-quarters of respondents were worried about organizations using data without their permission.
Then, 63% of those polled said that the way smart gadgets collect information about people and their behaviors is “creepy.” The survey also shed light on how only 50% of the respondents knew how to disable the features that gather data on smart home devices.
This research is a valuable reminder that people have varied concerns about IoT device security. However, the good news is that taking simple, proactive steps can boost the security of your home and your data.
It’s typically easier for hackers to gain access to smart home devices when those gadgets are outdated. One easy safeguard is to set aside a time each month to check all your devices for available updates and install any new software as necessary. Consider marking a particular day on a desk calendar as a reminder or setting up an alert on your smartphone’s calendar.
Another straightforward thing you can do to have a more secure home IoT system is to find out which brands or types of devices hackers target most often, then prioritize those gadgets as you strengthen security. Findings from SAM Seamless Network revealed that 47% of the most vulnerable smart home devices are security cameras. Smart speaker hubs from Amazon and Google are also high on the list of likely potential attack targets.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t buy those kinds of gadgets. It just emphasizes how you must be especially careful to keep security tight instead of assuming these devices are secure enough on their own.
Take the time to find out which companies prioritize your security seriously. Then, determine whether any of those companies on your shortlist have had recent hacks. If so, dig deeper to find out how they handled them and conclude if you think the response was satisfying and adequate based on the identified problem.
Home automation offers numerous benefits, such as convenience and energy-efficiency. The available gadgets typically use Wi-Fi or Z-Wave protocols. Wi-Fi is more readily available but can lead to interference issues. Z-Wave eliminates these but is more expensive.
The rise in consumer demand for smart products means manufacturers regularly release new items to the market. If you already have several or plan to buy a substantial number over the next year or so, consider buying IoT security gadgets that keep every connected product more secure.
For example, the Bitdefender BOX is a smart home cybersecurity hub that gives double-layer protection to all connected devices, plus offers an integrated VPN and parental controls. Another option is the F-Secure SENSE, a router that comes with a complementing app for straightforward monitoring of all your smart devices. The F-Secure SENSE also offers cloud-based updates against the latest threats.
Besides going through some of the device-specific security measures mentioned here, you may find it worthwhile to also buy a whole-home security measure. Doing this doesn’t mean it’s okay to settle for lax smart home security in other ways. But a security product that helps safeguard all connected devices could give you more peace of mind.
No matter if you purchase a dedicated IoT security product or keep using a conventional Wi-Fi home router, always keep them locked down with strong passwords. Don’t share the passwords with neighbors or other people who may not keep them private. Also, ensure that the router password is not easy to guess. For example, it should not be something as simple as your address or your pet’s name.
Amazon allows Alexa smart speaker users to delete the majority of data associated with their voice commands, and you can do the same if you own a Google smart speaker. But, you may want to take the extra step of specifically buying a smart speaker that doesn’t store user data. Mycroft is a privacy-focused smart speaker brand that makes this option available.
Consider deleting your smart speaker data every month at the same time you check for software updates on all devices. That way, if cybercriminals do gain access to the data through compromising your smart speaker, it’s less likely they’ll hear voice commands that give them too many details about your life.
Remember, the fact that some people have concerns about IoT security does not mean that IoT devices are bad or that you should not buy them. Instead, commit to going through these steps and others like them to secure existing devices and the new ones you buy. Then, you’ll be engaging in decisive actions that make your house more hacker-proof.
Image via Unsplash
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