Halfway through 2021, smart home trends are beginning to dominate tech talk on the Internet, with many wondering what’s next in store for smart homes. With an influx of smart home appliances, smart automation devices, and even smart security, it’s no wonder why many homes today are considered “smart homes.”
And while the smart home concept is fantastic and something homeowners should strive for if they can, there are a few inherent issues. One of these issues is security and the concerns people have about the safety of smart homes.
Today, let’s go over a few of these security concerns and how homeowners can keep their homes safe and secure while converting them to smart homes.
Concerns Surrounding Smart Homes
When smart assistants (Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, etc.) were becoming commonplace, and Amazon began selling Amazon Echos, people were concerned about the potential breach of privacy these devices brought. After all, a device that listens 24/7 for its name has a way of raising a few eyebrows.
And while the general population has eased up to the idea of smart devices, concerns about data and privacy still remain. Companies love collecting user data, and what better way to gather data than to listen to users?
But that’s not all! Since many smart devices are responsible for automating homes and helping out homeowners, it’s no doubt that companies are studying user habits and needs. Studying these can help improve products, but they also breach a layer of user privacy, which many users are afraid to lose.
Increased Risk of Identity Theft
Smart devices ask for certain information during setup, and many more require accounts to manage. For example, an Amazon Echo needs an Amazon account to use. This means that cybercriminals could potentially hack these devices and steal your data.
Depending on the data they steal, you may be at risk of identity theft. Even the possibility of this happening has scared off many potential smart device users.
Network Vulnerabilities Within Smart Devices
Smart devices are notoriously insecure. This is because smart devices, despite being a decade old, are varied, and as a result, there are no set guidelines for how secure a smart device should be. This means that adding a smart device to your network could mean adding another vulnerability to your network.
No one wants to do that, so many don’t bother giving smart devices a chance, despite the advantages they bring to the table, just like they ignore signing up for the kickass torrent.
3 Ways to Secure Smart Devices at Home
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1. Secure the Network
All of your smart devices are most likely connected to the same network—your network. After all, most of these devices require the Internet to function correctly. Without it, their functions would be seriously limited.
However, connecting these devices to your network means adding more points of entry to your network. In other words, cybercriminals have more options on how they want to hack your network. And all it takes is one of those entry points (devices) to be left vulnerable for said hacker to enter your network.
So, the best way to counter such a possibility is by securing your network, ensuring that all devices connected to your network are more secure.
There are a few ways you can secure your network. For one, you can make your network invisible to people outside of your home. You can also set the network password to be long and complicated—something a hacker could never guess.
Lastly, you could use a VPN for security. With a VPN (Virtual Private Network), the data your devices send is encrypted, meaning hackers will be unable to steal your data or use it to gain access to your network.
2. Use Strong Passwords & Enable Two-Step Verification
Populating your house with a bunch of smart devices means creating new accounts. The amount of accounts you create depends on how many different brands you use, but let’s assume you have at least two accounts dedicated to various functions in your house.
Take a second to think about how much damage a hacker could do if they were able to hack into those accounts. Would they be able to mess with your thermostats and AC? Could they access your locks and open your doors remotely?
The truth is, there’s a lot of damage that comes with a hacked account, especially for accounts that are linked to smart home devices. This is why you must secure these accounts with strong passwords. But you need to go a step further and enable two-step verification on the accounts that support doing so.
Two-step verification—also known as two-factor authentication—requires not only a password but a second form of identity verification, typically a code sent to you through text, email, or through an app like Authy.
Speaking of security, let’s talk about physical security and how home devices can help you protect your home from intruders.
3. Take Advantage of Smart Home Security Devices
Media outlets shine a spotlight on the most common smart home devices: smart thermostats, smart appliances, and vice versa. These are great, of course, but more focus should be put on smart security devices.
Companies such as Arlo, Blink, and Ring sell smart devices dedicated to securing people’s homes. These devices range from surveillance cameras with feeds that users can access 24/7 to smart locks that only open via the owner’s fingerprint.
It’s obvious why these devices don’t get as much as your run-of-the-mill smart fridge—they’re not as exciting. However, smart security devices go a long way in keeping your home free from intruders. Good cameras and smart locks cost a pretty penny, but it’s worth splurging for your home’s security.
The beginning of the 2010s brought with it a smart-device boom. Digital assistants, smart thermostats, smart security cameras—every home device and appliance seems to carry a “smart” label nowadays.
And while these devices are great, they bring with them the issue of security or lack thereof. With these three tips, homeowners can deck out their homes with smart devices without risking their security and safety.
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