Home Did you know ? 7 Security Tips When Setting Up Your Smart Home

7 Security Tips When Setting Up Your Smart Home

by Mic Johnson

Considering a new smart home system or thinking about upgrading your new ones? Here are some great tips to ensure you do so with security in mind.

I. Multi-Factor Authentication

Smart home appliances on the user’s network typically use passwords. The username and password have to be updated because there are other secured ways to verify login credentials.

Multi-factor authentication is currently the best method when it comes to protecting devices. It’s accomplished either by using a password in conjunction with a short-term secret code that’s instantly texted to the user or via a small key card that’s included with the device.

So, the user stands up to the gadget’s scrutiny to let the service providers know that the owner is present when setting it up.

Smart devices currently in the market already have multi-factor authentication, which is a good thing. If a device is lacking this feature, the user should enable the function immediately by getting third-party apps such as Google Authenticator or Authy. Authy adds 2-factor authentication to the device or network.

While most IoT systems have 2-factor authentication built into the mobile apps connected to each device, having an extra layer of security provided by a service such as Authy can provide any smart building owner with a sense of security.

II. Use Strong Passwords

Users need to have very strong passwords in other places, especially the Wi-Fi router. You should, for instance, first register an account and sign in to use IoT devices. The devices usually have mobile apps that require the said login credentials.

Create unique login credentials for each account and app on an IoT device to ensure that even if one of the device’s passwords is ever stolen, the others still remain secure.  The obvious drawback to this approach is the need to remember many passwords. It isn’t advisable to write the password down since the details can either leak or find their way into the wrong hands.

A password management system that’s capable of storing an unlimited number of unique passwords, creating new ones, or even syncing the passwords between different devices, is usually a better option than writing down all the information.

III.  Employ a Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW)

Your router already comes with a firewall, but it most likely lacks critical security components such as VPN, malware protection, QoS management, intrusion prevention system (IPS), or even SSL/SSH interception.

A next-generation firewall is a platform for an integrated network that integrates a standard firewall with extra security features. An NGFW can be a particularly powerful tool when it comes to detecting and defending against cyberattacks. The level of protection boost for a smart home justifies the relatively high cost of investing in next-generation firewalls.

IV. Update Your Devices Regularly

Users need to regularly update their security systems, smart thermostats, and door locks, just as they do with their smartphones and computers. Smart home device software may require regular updates to either add new features or fix any security flaws that the manufacturer finds.

Always accept any updates requested by a device, and whenever possible, enable automatic updates. Visit the manufacturer’s website for details on getting the updates if a device that’s connected to your smart home never requests one.

Homeowners need to select a new device that automatically pushes all updates when making a purchase. To find out how frequently updates are made available for the device, you should check its online history. The more frequently, the more the security is enhanced.

V. Upgrade the Router

The wireless router is perhaps the biggest security gap in a smart home, but the gadget is also the best line of protection against hackers. You should ensure that the network password is strong, keep the firmware up-to-date, and avoid using an easily identifiable name.

If your current router is more than 5 years old, you need to make sure that you replace it. If you do that, you will have better security and perhaps even faster browsing speeds. Ensure that your new router has WPA2-level security.

VI. Use a VPN

Homeowners can safeguard privacy by ensuring that outsiders never eavesdrop on smart homes using a VPN on the router. The VPNs will provide the user with an internet connection that’s both safe and encrypted, but only if the router is VPN-compatible.

The function of the VPN is to ensure that nobody, not even your ISP, can see any of the activities on the smart devices connected via the VPN-enabled router. It can be useful if you want to keep content watched on a smart TV private or ensure that nobody can see what smart devices are owned at home or even what information is sent over the internet.

VII. Disable Unused Features

The convenience of controlling appliances in a smart home from anywhere is one of the best features of these homes. The convenience is definitely practical but it unfortunately gives hackers a simple point of entry.

As a rule of thumb, turn off unused IoT features to reduce possible entry points for hackers. These include unused remote access, Bluetooth connections, and voice control. Even if the prospective exploit seems impossible, it’s still advisable to disable these features. Nobody can penetrate or take advantage of the unused features when they are disabled.

You may also like