Transitioning into a smart home has various cybersecurity risks.
But with the right knowledge and preparation…
You can secure your smart home devices from potential cyberattacks.
Is it hard to do?
You don’t need to be a tech expert to keep your smart home safe.
Continue reading to discover:
- 9 effective tips to secure your smart home devices.
- 3 simple ways to protect your router from cyberattacks.
- The reason you shouldn’t blindly trust any smart home company.
- And this is just the beginning…
How to secure smart homes devices? 9 tips
#1: Secure your router
Your WiFi network is the platform that connects all your smart devices.
And since it’s the center of your smart home system…
All your devices will be at risk if your WiFi is hacked.
Hence, you must secure your router. More than anything else on your smart home system.
Luckily, it’s pretty easy to do so.
Just follow these…
3 simple ways to secure your router:
Change your network’s name
Routers usually come with a generic name.
Which includes your device’s brand or model.
And while it may be easier to leave it as is…
You should highly avoid sticking to your network’s standard name.
Because if you expose your router’s model…
It’ll be easy for anyone to search for its default login and password. Making your network highly prone to being breached.
Choose a unique password for your router
Don’t include your personal information in your password.
And avoid using your street name or house number for it as well.
The best way to create a strong password is to include all of the following:
- Uppercase and lowercase letters.
So, be creative.
Pro tip: Use random code generators to create a strong network password.
Note: You can use this suggestion for all platforms, not just your router.
Use the highest security protocol
Routers have 2 types of encryption: WPA and WEP.
And they protect your wireless networks from potential cyberattacks.
Here’s a video that compares them in-depth if you’re interested:
But simply speaking…
WPA offers better protection for your network.
Hence, you should stick to using this encryption for your router.
Now, you may change your network’s security protocol yourself.
But since this process can be complicated…
I recommend contacting your ISP instead.
Just ask its representatives to switch your router’s security protocol to WPA2. One of the best encryptions for WiFi networks.
Now, if your router isn’t compatible with this protocol…
It’s best to switch out your router to a newer model. Because the WEP encryption has a higher risk of being hacked.
Related reading: Can You Have a Smart Home With Satellite Internet? 6 Facts
#2: Make different passwords for your accounts
While it may be convenient to reuse the same password for different platforms…
It’ll make your smart home vulnerable to being totally controlled by hackers.
Because when they crack or guess 1 of your devices’ passwords…
They’ll also gain access to the rest of your accounts and gadgets.
So, controlling your entire smart home system will be a walk in the park.
To avoid this problem…
You should only use the same password for a maximum of 2 accounts.
And using the tip I told you earlier….
You should also ensure that each of your passwords is strong enough.
#3: Use separate networks
Most likely, you’ve heard the saying:
“Don’t put all your eggs in 1 basket.”
Because you could lose everything in an instant.
Well, this principle also applies to smart homes.
As I mentioned earlier, if hackers breach your network…
All the gadgets using that particular WiFi will also be in danger.
Now, there isn’t a way to completely avoid this.
But if your router does get hacked…
Using separate networks will lessen the cybersecurity damage to your smart home.
For example, even if someone hacks your WiFi…
Only half of your devices will be compromised if you have 2 different networks.
“So, do I need 2 separate routers for a smart home?”
No. Most WiFi devices allow you to create a guest network.
And others also have separate bands for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz signals.
So, even just a single router can give you 3 different networks.
That said, here’s how you can…
Split up your smart home’s WiFi bands wisely:
Connect your main devices to the same network
These are the gadgets that contain your:
- Contact details.
- Banking information.
- Social media accounts.
And some examples are your laptop, PC, and smartphone.
Main devices are often more secure and heavily encrypted.
So, it’s best to isolate them from…
These devices are often less secure. And the most common examples are smart:
“Why should I isolate them to a different network?”
Well, through this segregation…
Hackers won’t be able to access your personal data even if they access your smart appliances. Which are easier to hack.
Pro tip: Let your guests connect to this network if you don’t have a 3rd WiFi band. So your main devices containing your personal data will always be safe.
#4: Research before buying
All smart home companies will claim that their devices are secured.
But unfortunately, not all brands have the same level of security.
For example, near the end of 2022…
The US government announced banning smart cameras from these companies:
- ZTE Corporation.
- Dahua Technology Company.
- Huawei Technologies Company.
- Hytera Communications Corporation.
- Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company.
Because their devices pose an “unacceptable risk to the national security.”
See, these companies have already been around the US market for years.
But the government couldn’t pinpoint their safety-related flaws immediately.
Hence, you shouldn’t trust a smart home brand just because it’s a long-term company.
Pro tip: Always read customers’ reviews about a smart device before purchasing it.
“What smart home companies do you recommend?”
Based on my personal experience…
Here are some of the best smart home systems you can trust:
- Amazon Alexa.
- Apple HomeKit.
- Google Assistant (Google Home).
#5: Disable features you don’t need
Unless you want hackers to be able to spy on you with ease…
You should disable the smart home features you don’t need.
Because if your network is breached…
Your smart devices will be the hacker’s eyes and ears inside your home.
For example, with Amazon Alexa…
It’ll be in your best interest to stop your AI from recording your voice commands.
Because there have been several cases of Alexa saving private conversations.
And unfortunately, criminals can replay those if you’re hacked.
Moreover, you should turn OFF the remote control features you don’t utilize.
For example, if you have a smart oven or stove with this function…
It’s best to prevent your device from turning ON remotely.
Because if hackers get control of your smart home’s cloud or online database…
They can crank these smart devices to their highest temperature. Which can cause a housefire.
Pro tip: Only enable the smart features you need daily. So, even if you get hacked, the hacker won’t have absolute control over your smart home.
#6: Keep devices up to date
Inside a smart home, all your gadgets connect through your network.
So, even if only 1 of your devices is hacked…
Eventually, that hacker can access the rest of the gadgets using your WiFi connection.
Hence, every time you see an update notification…
You should avoid clicking that highly tempting “Remind me later” button.
Because updates ensure that your devices:
- Can avoid bugs and glitches.
- Will work efficiently with other gadgets.
- Have the latest patches against security flaws.
Now, most smart devices will update automatically.
But sometimes, they won’t do so if you have a slow Internet connection.
Or if you’ve turned off the auto-update features of your devices.
So, at least twice a month…
Check if your gadgets have updates available manually.
“Can I ask my smart home system to update all my devices simultaneously?”
You have to check each of your gadgets’ apps or accounts to keep them up to date.
#7: Enable 2-factor authentication (2FA)
Strong passwords aren’t always enough to secure your entire smart home system.
Because some skilled hackers can crack even the most complicated codes.
So, to further strengthen your smart devices’ protection…
Enable 2-factor authentication on most, if not all, of your apps.
This way, whenever a new device attempts to log into any of your accounts…
You’ll get notified through:
And unless you verify that you’re trying to sign in…
New devices won’t be able to access your accounts.
“Do all apps offer 2-factor authentication?”
No. Some applications, mostly those with less than 100K downloads, don’t have this feature.
But luckily, almost all of the big names in the tech industry have 2FA. That includes:
#8: Factory reset smart devices before giving them away
Here’s 1 of my favorite advantages of getting a smart home:
You can always customize it however you want.
So, you’re free to add any smart gadget to your system.
Or remove a device from it as you wish.
Now, I have sold and given away several old smart gadgets.
But here’s something I never forget to do:
Factory reset my smart devices before getting rid of them.
Because if your old gadget falls into the wrong hands with your information still in it…
You’ll be giving its new owner an easy path toward hacking your smart home.
You might also want to know: 39 Best Smart Home Devices & Gadgets (Updated)
#9: Keep your phone safe
If you have a smart home….
Your phone isn’t just used surf the Internet.
It also becomes your house’s ultimate keycard, with its ability to:
- Control your smart lock.
- Disable your security alarms.
- Turn your smart devices ON/OFF.
- Remove gadgets from your smart home system.
And with this much control over your house…
Losing your phone also means compromising your home’s safety.
So, to completely secure your smart home devices…
Always keep your phone with you.
And protect it with complicated passwords.
Moreover, you should know how to:
- Lock your smartphone using other gadgets.
- Track your mobile device’s location immediately.
So, even if you do lose your phone…
You’ll prevent letting strangers gain total control of your smart home.