Smart Home Hacking: How to Protect Your Vulnerable Devices
A modern smart home is full of high-tech devices hackers would love to crack. Learn how to protect those devices here.
How to Secure Your Alexa Device
Devices like the Amazon Echo are essentially little portals of convenience you can place around your home. They can play music, keep you informed on the latest news, and order you more laundry detergent when you’re running low. Unfortunately, the microphone that allows an Alexa-enabled device to hear your questions and commands is also a potential security hazard.
One easy way to secure your Amazon Echo device is to turn off its microphone. That way the device is not constantly listening for its activation words, protecting your home from unwanted recordings. You’ll still be able to manually access Alexa by pushing the talk button on the unit itself. While pushing a button every time you want to ask the device a question or tell it to do something is inconvenient, that inconvenience is a small price to pay for privacy.
If you don’t want to turn off your microphone but still want to keep tabs on what your Amazon Echo is recording, you can review and delete any sounds that Alexa has recorded by logging in to the Alexa privacy center.
How to Secure Your Router
Your router serves as an entry point into your home’s internet service, making it an attractive target not just for hackers but for anyone looking to hop onto your network and freeload off your connection. While it might not seem like a big deal to let a few neighbors “piggyback” your WiFi, having a network that’s easy to access will slow your connection and present a major security hazard.
Someone getting access to your home network’s password is no different than cloning a key to your front door. That’s why it’s essential to make the “key” to your WiFi network as complicated and random as possible. Using personal information like your dog’s name or your home address backwards is as easy to remember as it is to guess. Instead of a generic password, go to this random password generator and create your own unique password.
Store your randomly generated passwords in a physical place rather than a digital one. It’s a good idea to grab a book off your bookshelf and keep a record of your passwords on the back pages. That way, the only way someone can gain access to your passwords is by actually breaking into your home.
How to Secure Your Smart TV
One of the big advantages of a modern smart TV is that you can connect to streaming services and apps right from the television’s menus without any other devices. One of the major disadvantages, however, is that means all your account information is stored on that TV. The best way to keep your smart TV secure is to make sure its software is current. App developers frequently address bugs, defects and security issues by releasing free updates to software, so staying as up-to-date as possible will ensure your systems have all the latest protections from external threats. Check your smart TV’s settings to see if it comes with an “Automatic Update” feature. If it does, turn it on so your applications will update in the background without any input from you.
How to Secure Your Home Computer
Having a personal computer in your home is a necessity for many people, especially anyone who frequently works from home. Whether you use your computer for work or play, keeping it secure should be a top priority. Here are some essential steps anyone looking to protect their home computer should take:
- Keep your software updated (turn on automatic updates).
- Install antivirus software. Here are five free options.
- Follow best practices for safely browsing the web.
- Do not open emails or email attachments from unknown senders.
- Do not plug anything into your computer, including USB memory sticks and hard drives, if you do not own them or know where they came from.
How to Secure Your Video Doorbell
If you put a device in your home with a camera attached, do everything in your power to make sure that device is as secure from outside threats as possible. The good news is that the companies behind video doorbells like the Ring Video Doorbell 2 are actually pretty lockdown about user security. If someone gains unwanted access to your video doorbell, it’s most likely because of a security lapse on your end, not Google’s.
Here are a few simple steps to ensure your video doorbell stays safe and inaccessible to the outside world:
- Protect your home’s WiFi network with a strong, unique password.
- Make sure that your video doorbell is securely attached to your home so it’s difficult to steal.
- Set up two-factor authentication.
That last step is perhaps the most important. People tend to reuse passwords because they’re easier to remember. The drawback: If a hacker gains access to one of your accounts, they can quickly guess their way into others.
In two-factor authentication, when you enter a password, security prompts you to enter a second piece of identification. That can come in many forms — a birthdate, the answer to a secret question only you know, or a code sent to your phone. Two-factor authentication frustrates hackers by adding a significant, extra level of security.