By Kishan Jain, Director, Goldmedal Electricals
December 18 2020: Smart home devices have become an integral part of our digitally connected world. While these highly innovative devices have transformed our way of life in many ways, they sometimes come with their fair share of risks. One of the major challenges faced by manufacturers is to provide steps to defend these devices from cyberattacks. Here are a few steps that I feel most people can take to protect and safeguard their smart devices from malicious cyber intruders.
Choose your devices smartly: The first step in buying smart appliances should be to carry out necessary market research on various manufacturing brands regarding their safety aspect. It is critical to the safety of your devices and home that you evaluate the security protection and privacy features offered by various brands. It’s safer if they provide regular firmware updates for better performance and continuous protection. The product should always be bought from authorized resellers of the brand for genuine and authentic products.
Secure your Wi-Fi Network: Since a Wi-Fi range can go beyond the four walls of the home and offices, it makes your home network vulnerable to cyber intrusion. But this can be prevented by installing a good Wi-Fi router and securing the network with a unique network name and password. Some routers have the option to create a secondary network, which can be used specifically for all smart home devices. This will restrict the hacker’s movement and access. The “hide network” option also prevents outsiders from connecting to the network. Lastly, install VPN on your smart devices to protect your privacy in case it is connected to a public network.
Power of passwords: The key to every device is the password that is set for it. During the setup process, the default password must be changed immediately. Ideally, passwords should be at least 8 characters long and include numbers as well as special characters. Use of generic or easy-to-guess passwords with personal information like name, date of birth etc. should be avoided. It is advisable to change the password occasionally, once every six months. Two-factor authentication is another way to keep your devices and data protected from cyber intrusion.
Disconnect to protect: Most routers have the universal plug and play (UPnP) option that lets you find and connect to other devices on the same network easily, but it also a security hazard. It gives outsiders a chance to find and access your devices. Turn off UPnP on the router to prevent a potential intrusion. Similarly, not all smart home devices need to be active and connected at all times. Disconnect devices or turn them off when you plan to be away for a long period of time.
Keep your operating system and apps in check: The operating system as well as the apps installed on the smart devices should be regularly updated. Most of these updates include security and bug fixes that prevent hackers from exploiting vulnerabilities that the smart devices might have. It is also important to monitor apps and double check permissions requested by them. It’s crucial to watch out for warning signs like if an app is requesting access data that is not pertinent to its function.