Boost your smart home security in 5 easy steps

As smart homes get smarter, security and privacy become increasingly important.

Josh Miller/CNET

If we’ve learned anything from the past two years during the pandemic, it’s how to deal with spending so much of our time at home. At the annual meeting in Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show in January, smart home experts told the public that while home life is expected to become more convenient and connected, smart home privacy is also a growing concern.

Tech giants like Samsung, Apple, google, Amazon and other smart device makers are working to create a more seamless, intuitive, and hyper-personalized connected home environment.

With all private data you already pour into your smart home devices, you’ll need to pay close attention to how you protect that data and enhance your privacy as your home environment becomes even more connected. As ResMed Chief Medical Officer Dr. Carlos Nunez explained, connected devices gather disparate data that seems innocuous, but can give companies insight into your life that “could potentially be dangerous in the wrong hands.” .

“It’s a brave new world and much of it is being accelerated by the pandemic. This acceleration of our online lives and becoming more virtual isn’t going away,” Nunez continued as he told the CES audience, adding that “most consumers…don’t even understand the extent to which their privacy has essentially gone.

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At CES 2022 in Las Vegas, privacy experts discuss privacy laws and how to protect consumer data in the evolving digital age.

CNET/Screenshot

At the same time, smart home device makers are pushing to put more devices in your home, with greater interoperability between those connected devices. During Samsung’s keynote presentation at the Las Vegas conference, SmartThings product engineering manager Mark Benson said the interoperability is aimed at a “unified, smart home experience.”

Katherine Shin, vice president of customer experience at HVAC maker Trane, said interoperability between connected devices will mean more choice for consumers and the Home Connectivity Alliance is committed to ensuring safety. smart home data. The HCA is a group of home appliance manufacturers, including Samsung, Trane and GE, whose mission is to promote safety, security and interoperability in the connected smart home environment.

“Not only are HCA members working feverishly to ensure the products perform reliably, but we will also ensure that the data that passes through these products is stored in a secure environment,” Shin added.

As our homes become smarter and our lives increasingly connected to the internet, the conversation around Privacy and Security is getting bigger. Jamie Susskind, technology policy adviser to Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, also stressed the importance of securing connected devices.

“The IoT, where it was like a buzzword in 2015, you know, now it’s the thing that we really have to think about in terms of how do we secure these devices, and how do we do that? us within the broader ecosystem. And that’s, you know, the challenge for government and the private sector to deal with that,” Susskind said.

Data privacy laws won’t do much to protect you from malicious actors, and some major smart device makers are facing congressional scrutiny and lawsuits for their data collection practices. and security. So it’s up to you to step up your security and privacy if you want to make your smart home safer. Here are your must-have tips for securing your smart home devices.

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Mark Benson, SmartThings Product Engineering Manager, talks about “the unified, smart home experience” at CES 2022 in Las Vegas.

CNET/Screenshot

5 easy ways to boost your smart home security

Use a VPN on your router

When you use a VPN on your router, you can protect your privacy by preventing others from seeing your smart home activity. Provided you have a VPN compatible router, the best VPNs will work well on your router and provide you with a secure, encrypted connection to the Internet. This means that no one will be able to monitor the activity on the smart devices you connect through your vpn-router enabled – not even your ISP. This is useful if you want keep your viewing activity on your private smart TVor if you want to make sure no one sees what smart devices you have in your home and what data they transmit over the internet.

Secure your Wi-Fi network and connected devices with strong passwords

You wouldn’t want to keep the front door to your house unlocked and wide open for anyone to come in at will. In the same way, close the door of your home Wi-Fi network with a password. It may take a simple snapshot to crack a weak passwordhowever, leaving your Wi-Fi network vulnerable with a weak password is like leaving your front door unlocked even after closing it.

Secure your home network with a strong password is the first deadbolt that protects your smart home against intrusions. Likewise, you’ll want to secure each of your smart devices with its own strong, unique password. Default passwords for your devices simply won’t do: Cybercriminals already know the default passwords for the most popular smart devices. To set strong passwords for your devices, it’s a good idea to consider using a password manager.

Isolate IoT devices on a separate network

If an unauthorized entity gains access to your Wi-Fi network, you may be able to contain the threat and protect your most sensitive personal data much more effectively if you keep your smart home devices isolated on a separate network from your primary devices. like your computer, phone and tablet. If your router allows you to create a secondary router Guest network, you can then configure your smart home devices to connect to this separate network instead of your main network. Of course, you’ll still want to create a strong password for your secondary network of smart devices.

Enable appropriate privacy settings on your devices and disable features you don’t need

Do not rely on the default values ​​of your devices Privacy settings to protect your privacy. After all, smart device manufacturers usually aim to collect as much data as possible to find ways to optimize their products and ultimately sell more of them. So they don’t particularly want to deploy their devices with the default privacy settings enabled, which would create hurdles in their path to collecting this data.

Go to your devices’ control panel and enable the settings that work best for you and provide the level of privacy you’re most comfortable with for you and your family. While you’re at it, go ahead and disable features you don’t need – such as remote access features, cameras and microphones – if they are not explicitly required for the operation of the device.

Research device manufacturers before you buy

Does the company behind the smart home device you’re considering have a concerning privacy policy that hints at exorbitant data collection practices? What data does the company collect and with whom does it share this data? Does the manufacturer have a history of data breaches or a bad record when it comes to private data privacy?

Smart home devices can make your life at home more convenient, but if the devices you use aren’t secure and don’t properly protect your privacy, the trade-off just isn’t worth it. Take the time to do your research on the devices you plan to invite into your home, your personal space. Read CNET smart home device Commentsto research News about previous data breaches or privacy missteps. Finally, read the manufacturer’s privacy policy, especially the section that deals with data collection.

Each individual connected device on your network represents an additional potential point of failure, another window into your smart home that someone can climb through and invade your privacy. emerging universal vendor-independent smart home standards signal that the future of smart home technology does indeed rest on the idea of seamless interoperability between devices, which means consumer homes will only become more and more connected, which will expand the attack surface of many smart homes, one device at a time. That’s why it’s more important than ever to secure these devices and protect your smart home privacy.

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