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Securing Your Internet-Connected Devices at Home

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Our homes are filled with internet-connected devices. They let us see what’s happening at our homes from wherever we are, get our favorite music and shows with a voice command, or change the temperature on the thermostat from our phone. Here are some steps that can help protect your internet-connected devices.

Start With Your Router

  • Change the default settings. The key to privacy in the Internet-of-Things (IoT) world is your router. All of your connected devices likely connect to the internet through your router. Start by changing defaults — the settings every router comes with — to something unique. You’ll need to change the default administrative username, password, and network name. Don’t use login names or passwords with your name, your address, or your router brand.
  • Enable encryption.  You can enable encryption by going to your “administrative settings,” then to your “wireless security settings.”
  • Check for updates. Remember to keep checking for hardware and software updates.

For more tips on securing your router, read Securing Your Wireless Network.

Protect Each Device 

Once your router is secure, search for each device connected to your router. To make sure you know which devices are connected, go to your router’s web interface and look for “connected devices,” “wireless clients,” or “DHCP clients.”

Here are steps to take to protect each device connected to your router:

  • Change the default username and password. Never reuse passwords. Hackers sometimes use stolen usernames and passwords from data breaches to hack your other accounts.
  • Use two-factor authentication. If a device offers two-factor authentication (a password plus something else, like a code sent to your phone or a thumbprint scan), use it.
  • Don’t just click “next” when you set up your IoT device. Don’t skip this important step for later — set up the security features on your device from the start. Take advantage of your device’s security features, like enabling encryption or setting up a passcode lockout (“three strikes, and you’re out”) to add another layer of protection to your device.
  • Update your device regularly. Check for updates to the firmware. You may need to do this on the manufacturer’s website. Also, if your device is accessible through an app on your phone, use the most up-to-date version of the app.
  • Disable or disconnect what you don’t use. Disable features you won’t use. If you won’t use remote management, it’s best to disable it. Also, disconnect from the network older devices you no longer use. Their security may be out of date, creating a weak point on your network.

Smart TVs, IP Cameras, and Voice Assistants

Smart TVs

Are you worried about your smart TV watching you? Find your TV’s tracking settings and change them to match your privacy preferences. Also make sure to remove apps you don’t use. They can collect data on your behavior even when you’re not using them.

IP cameras

What about IP cameras (like baby, pet, or security cams) that offer live video and audio feeds you can see remotely over the internet? Many IP cameras are vulnerable to digital snooping. So, in addition to changing the default settings, check the camera’s access logs regularly for unauthorized access. Look for things like IP addresses you don’t recognize or odd access times that don’t fit your normal patterns. You can check the logs through your administrative settings.

For more detailed advice, read Using IP Cameras Safely.

Voice assistants

Voice assistants can respond to your every command. But they can also listen all the time and even send recordings to the manufacturer.

For privacy tips on voice assistants, read How To Secure Your Voice Assistant and Protect Your Privacy.

Tagged with: consumer privacy