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Top Ways to Stop Hackers Gaining Access to Your Systems via Smart-Home Gadgets

Top Ways to Stop Hackers Gaining Access to Your Systems via Smart-Home Gadgets

Most people these days are aware of the prevalence of hackers and the fact that they’re continually finding new ways and techniques to get access to information and crash systems. However, lots of consumers don’t realize how much they are actually putting themselves at risk by not securing their smart-home devices.

With more and more connected gadgets becoming available and making their way into people’s homes, this is a booming market not just for retailers but also for cybercriminals. If you want to stop hackers from infecting your computers, holding your information for ransom, crashing your networks, and more, then, it’s important to make sure you increase security measures in your smart home. Read on for some top ways you can go about protecting your devices today.

Change the Default Settings on Your Gadgets

One of the first things you should do when you bring a smart-home gadget back from the store is change the default settings on it. This is because hackers often try to get access to networks and products using the passwords and usernames that come automatically set up on devices.

Manufacturers tend to use the same settings on all their products, and then make this information available to consumers (typically via installation guides, websites, forums, and the like) to use when they’re first setting up their devices. While brands suggest buyers update this information once they have purchased a product, most people either don’t follow the tip or don’t even read the instruction manual to see the recommendation to begin with. Hackers know this, and get easy access to systems via the standard usernames and passwords as a result. If you want to keep your smart-home products safe from prying eyes then, change the default settings straight away.

In addition to the username and password, the default ID name for the devices should also be changed. This is because, again, most manufacturers ship out their products with a standard identification that includes the brand name. As such, hackers performing scans to find ways into your network will see you have particular branded gadgets in your home. As soon as they have determined this, they will realize you haven’t bothered to change the ID from its original setting, and believe you’re lax on security. This, in turn, will likely have them working on breaking into your system faster.

Secure Your Home’s Wi-Fi

Another important step to take to keep hackers at bay is make sure your home’s Wi-Fi is secure. With smart-home devices always using the internet to perform their tasks, hackers know that they can often gain access to gadgets through an unsecured wireless network.

If you haven’t password-protected your home Wi-Fi, digital thieves nearby can use your wireless to break into your network router and various other access points, and then get access to your connected products. You must keep your network safe then, by setting up a comprehensive password that all users of internet in/near your home will have to input before they can use the Wi-Fi.

Passwords which are hard for people to hack are always a decent length (eight or more characters is best), and created using a mixture of letters (upper case and lower case), symbols, and numbers. As well, a good code won’t revolve around any information that can be found on you publicly. For example, steer clear of birthdays, family or pet names, email address, and the like.

Protect Your Computers With Security Software

Lastly, remember that hackers can also gain access to your connected devices through any computers, tablets, and related gadgets you use to control them. As a result, you need to protect these products from cybercriminals.

One of the best ways to go about this is by installing high-quality security software that will help stop spam, viruses, ransomware, spyware, and malware from giving hackers access to your data or keystrokes in any way. It pays to purchase a product that’s particularly suited to your computer, too, such as those labeled as antivirus for Mac or Windows computers. Adding firewalls to your gadgets is another good way to protect them, as this adds another level of defense.

Keep Systems Updated

Something a lot of consumers don’t think about when it comes to security is how up-to-date all the systems are on their devices. While it might not cross your mind when you buy and then use smart-home gadgets, the fact is that security holes arise in firmware, software and drivers over time, which makes products more open to attack from hackers. This is the case whether products have been sitting on the shelf for months in a store, or being used in your house.

To keep your gadgets protected, then, be vigilant about installing updates. Unfortunately, most connected products aren’t set up to update automatically, so you should either create a regular reminder for yourself in your calendar (monthly is fine), or use the reminder function that should be available on the same smartphone app you use to control your smart-home device(s) — most tech has this feature these days.

 

About Dean Alvarez

Dean is Features Editor at IT Security Guru. Aside from cyber security and all things tech, Dean's interests include wine tasting, roller blading and playing the oboe in his Christian rock band, Noughts & Crosses.

You can reach Dean via email - dean@itsecurityguru.org