Categories: New in Tech

Protect Your Smart Home and IoT Devices: 7 Tips That Actually Works

According to IoT statistics, 127 devices are connected to the internet every second.

Companies will invest more than one trillion dollars by 2023. 70% of automobiles

will be connected to the internet. More than 80% of manufacturing and industrial

companies are either planning to use or are already using IoT devices. 90% of

retailers are using or planning to use IoT devices to customize store visits.

There is no denying that the internet of things has transformed businesses and has

now entered our homes. Despite the exponential growth in IoT and smart home

adoption, there are certain challenges that need to be overcome before it can go

mainstream. The security, privacy of IoT devices is a major concern. Lack of

standards and scalability issues along with little to no government support make

matters worse for IoT devices and smart homes.

In this article, you will learn about seven effective tips to safeguard your smart

home and IoT devices.

1. Setup Your Router Correctly

The first thing you need to do is to set up your router correctly. The router is a

gateway to your smart home. You don’t want it to crumble and break down during

a cyberattack and let hackers in your smart home. Since all the IoT device present

in your smart home connects to the router, it becomes an asset that you must

protect. Start off by changing the router’s default name.

Next, change the password and use a password that is hard to guess. Follow

password best practices when choosing a password for your account. Use a

combination of alphanumeric characters and avoid using dictionary words. You

can also use higher-level encryption to keep your router safe from hacker attacks.

If your router is using an older WEP protocol, then it is time for you to upgrade

and switch to a router that uses WPA2 or WPA3 protocols.

2. Use Strong Password

Hackers have advanced tools which they can use to steal or hack your passwords.

Passwords are not the safest option and most of us know that. That is why it is

important to use stronger passwords that are harder to guess. Use different

passwords for all your accounts and apps. This might make it difficult to remember

but you can use a password management tool that can save you from a lot of hassle

while keeping you safe. Even if one of your IoT devices gets hacked, it won’t

impact other devices.

3. Create a Dedicated Network for IoT Devices

Most routers today give you the option to create a secondary or guest network

which can come in handy. This allows you to create a separate network for IoT

devices, which has nothing to do with your main network. This protects your main

network from IoT-based threats.

By distinguishing your IoT network from the main network, you can also prevent

unwanted access and intrusions in your main network. This means that your smart

home network is only accessible to you and your family members. Even if the

hacker succeeds in compromising your IoT network, your critical data and devices

stay secure.

Ofer Maor, a cybersecurity expert and OWASP Foundation board member uses

this tactic himself. He says, “I use multiple network segments for my home.

One is my work network with the laptops, network-attached storage, and

more. Second is my ‘Home IoT’ network, which holds most of the IoT devices.

This reduces the risk of a data breach or cybersecurity attack — if one of my

IoT devices gets hacked, cybercriminals can use it as a ladder to target other

IoT devices but can never reach my laptop and access sensitive data stored in

it.”

4. Disable Unnecessary Features

Smart devices such as smart speakers and smart TVs have some additional features

that you rarely or never use. You can disable them to minimize the risk of misuse.

For instance, some smart speakers offer you both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity

options. You can disable it. Similarly, smart TVs have voice control features and

have an active mic which can easily be hacked and misused by cybercriminals. It is

highly recommended that you turn it off when you are not using it. Try to block as

many entry points as possible so that cybercriminals don’t find an opening to

exploit.

5. Update Your Firmware

Let’s say, you buy dedicated server. You will have to configure it first to work

properly and it will not happen automatically. Similarly, there are instances when

you must manually update your router’s firmware and the process does not take

place automatically. If that is the case, you should manually check for firmware

updates. If you find a new version of firmware available, download and install it

immediately. When you update the firmware of your router, you get the latest

security patches that can improve your network protection. Users will also receive

notifications and alerts regarding updates of firmware and if you get one, make

sure to update the firmware as soon as possible.

6. Use Advance Firewall

Most routers come with a built-in firewall but unfortunately, that is not enough to

protect your IoT network from unwanted intruders. The main reason for this is

because these traditional firewalls lack intrusion prevention systems, offer little to

no malware protection and have no content filtering mechanism. An advanced

firewall also known as the next-generation firewall is basically an integrated

network platform that has all these features and offers all the functionality offered

by traditional firewalls.

This means that it is not only capable of detecting but also preventing unwanted

network intrusions and cybersecurity attacks targeting your network. These next-

generation firewalls are expensive but the level of security these firewalls offer

justifies their high price. It is better to spend a little extra money to secure your

devices instead of losing your data which is worth millions of dollars.

7. Implement Two Factor Authentication

As mentioned before, the password is not the most secure authentication method.

Even if you are using it, it is highly recommended that you implement two-factor

authentications. This will enhance your security as it adds an extra layer of

protection. Even if the hacker succeeds in guessing or stealing your passwords,

they might not be able to access your account as there is a second layer of security

protecting your data from getting accessed.

How do you secure your IoT devices and smart home? Let us know in the

comments section below.

Feature Image: Smart Communities — How Tech Will Enhance Coliving

Lolitta Dozier

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