11 Tips to Keep Your Smart Home Technology Safe and Secure

white and gray Google smart speaker and two black speakers
Smart home devices are becoming more and more common throughout homes and businesses.

The concept of smart homes and smart home technology has now become part of modern living in America. It’s no longer odd to instruct your refrigerator to include milk on your digital shopping list. You can manage your lights and thermostat via a smartphone app and have a virtual assistant like Alexa readily available. However, as we embrace this newer way of living, it’s more than ever important to consider the potential risks and take proactive steps to prevent issues with privacy and getting locked out.

Recent headlines have shed light on the vulnerabilities of smart home technology. Such as the story in the New York Post’s article titled “Locked Out & Hacked: When Smart Homes Turn on Owners”.

In another instance, a woman was terrorized by unexpected lights and sounds in her own home, which were maliciously manipulated by her ex-partner using smart technology. As homes become more intelligent, it’s essential to know and implement strategies to protect your home and privacy and avoid similar distressing experiences.

Smart Home Technology Safety Tips You Need to Use

1. Secure Your Network and Devices

The cornerstone of your smart home is its network. Just like you wouldn’t leave your front door wide open, it’s crucial to focus on Wi-Fi and internet security. Here are some helpful practices:

  • Change your router’s default password to a strong and unique one. The default password is usually stickered on to the bottom of the router if it’s provided by your internet provider.
  • Utilize WPA3 encryption (also known as Wi-Fi 6).
  • Create a separate guest network to keep your smart devices isolated from your main network. Guest networks can usually be restricted separately than your main network.
  • Keep your router’s firmware up to date with the latest security patches. This is also a step to help protect yourself from cyber attacks.
Keeping hardware and devices updated is incredibly important. More robust systems, like this Unifi NVR and UDM, will often have updates available online or automatically applied when the device is online.

2. Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Many smart home device makers offer 2FA for added security. This can usually be done through an app or webpage you visit to access the device. For monitoring devices, such as smart cameras and alarms, it is especially important to implement additional layers of security so you can be sure you’re the only one accessing those feeds. By enabling 2FA, even if someone guesses your password, they won’t get past the second authentication step. This extra layer helps prevent unauthorized access.

3. Keep Firmware & Devices Updated

Firmware updates are vital for addressing often unknown security vulnerabilities in your smart home technology. Manufacturers release these updates to fix discovered weaknesses. Regularly check for firmware updates and apply them promptly. Some smart home devices will automatically update firmware while connected to the internet, so be sure it can connect for those updates.

4. Strengthen Smart Home Technology Passwords

When you set up your smart devices, be thorough in selecting robust, unique passwords. Avoid easily guessable choices like “123456” or “password.” Some devices, like smart speakers and smart displays don’t come with the option to set passwords. These devices should most definitely be set up on a more secure and restricted network. Opt for a mix of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. For extra safety, consider using a password manager.

5. Get to Know Your Smart Home Technology

Not all smart devices are equally secure. When selecting new devices, investigate the manufacturer’s reputation. Choose products known for prompt updates and strong security features. Avoid devices from obscure or untrusted brands. Just recently, US officials raised concern over Costco continuing to sell hardware from Lortex. Lorex was until recently a owned by China-based company Dahua. Dahua was added to the U.S. government’s economic sanctions list bacj in 2019, alongside Hikvision, after both companies were accused of profiteering from selling technology linked to China’s ongoing efforts to suppress ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.

6. Isolate Sensitive Devices

If possible, separate your most sensitive devices onto a distinct network. For instance, create a dedicated network for smart locks, security cameras, and other critical devices. This keeps them apart from less critical gadgets like smart bulbs or speakers. Even if one network gets compromised, the other devices remain safe. Devices you should isolate include:

  • Smart locks
  • Security cameras
  • and other critical devices
Free Round Grey Speaker On Brown Board Stock Photo. Smart home technology device.
Consider paying a few extra dollars for the more trusted brand, such as this Google Home Mini device. Better known brands are more likely to protect your data and privacy versus unknown names from other countries.

7. Be Cautious with Voice Assistants

Voice-activated assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant are incredibly convenient. But can also pose privacy risks. Review your voice assistant’s privacy settings. Be cautious about what information you share with them. Consider muting the microphone when you’re not actively using it. This prevents unintended eavesdropping.

8. Review App Permissions

Smart home apps often request access to various permissions on your devices. Before granting these permissions, scrutinize what data the app is trying to access. Decide whether it’s necessary for the device’s functionality. Restrict permissions to the least required for the device to operate.

Do you have confidence in your cybersecurity tech stack?

Are you certain your tech stack is protecting your employees and endpoints? Dark Blue Technologies combines security solutions from leading cybersecurity partners to provide organizations with best-in-class coverage for all attack surfaces. We provide businesses with cutting-edge XDR, cybersecurity awareness training, hardware and cloud optimizations, and more. Get in touch with us to find out if we can help improve your business security.

9. Check Your Devices Regularly

Regularly check the status and activity of your smart devices. Look for any unusual behavior. Such as devices turning on or off unexpectedly. Or unknown devices appearing on your network. If you notice anything suspicious, investigate and take action promptly.

10. Understand Your Device’s Data Usage

Review your smart device’s privacy policy. Understand how it uses your data. Some devices may collect and share your information with third parties. It can be for advertising or other purposes. Make informed decisions about the devices you bring into your home.

11. Stay Informed

Finally, stay informed about the latest developments in smart home security. Subscribe to security newsletters. Follow reputable tech blogs. Keep up with news articles like the one in the New York Post. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to protect your smart home.

Get Expert Help With Smart Home Security

Smart homes offer incredible convenience. But they also come with risks you shouldn’t ignore. Do you need some expert help setting up your smart home security? At Dark Blue Technologies, we assist with the management and guidance on obtaining smart home tech. Our trusted partners at Wolverine Low Voltage, a professional low voltage installer throughout Michigan, can install smart home tech throughout your house to your specific needs as well.

Give us a call today to schedule a chat.

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