By now most of us know how important it is to protect our computers and smartphones from malware and other threats, but what about the connected devices we have in our homes? You might not have thought about it before, but devices like your router, security cameras, baby monitor, and smart appliances can also be hacked if you don’t take steps to protect them.
You may remember last year when major websites such as Twitter, Amazon and GitHub were all knocked offline in a high-profile attack that used thousands of infected webcams to overload the sites with traffic. The cybercriminals behind the attack took advantage of the lax security in consumer webcams, accessing them without the owners’ knowledge.
Given how easy it is for hackers to reach unprotected network devices, it’s worth taking a few minutes to learn how to safeguard them. This way your devices cannot be accessed as part of a larger attack, or used to invade your privacy, or even steal your data.
Tips for Protecting Your Devices:
Know your devices—Before you invest in a new device, know what it does and does not do. For instance, a smart fridge or speaker may sound cool, but what if you knew it could be tampered with to eavesdrop on you? Make sure that any features you’re not comfortable with can be turned off.
Reset & apply any updates—Out of precaution, reset new devices to ensure they work as intended, and haven’t been altered in the supply chain to do something nefarious, such as leak data. Refer to your manual to see if there is a reset button.
Once you’ve done that, check to see if there are any firmware updates or security fixes that have become available since you purchased it. This is often the case with routers, and you can check for updates by following the manufacturer’s online instructions.
Change the default password—Many connected devices are protected with a default password. You’ll want to change the manufacturer’s default password as soon as possible. This is because default passwords are widely known by hackers, allowing them to easily access your device. Change the default password to something random and difficult to guess, and don’t re-use passwords.
Use encryption & a firewall—When setting up your home Wi-Fi make sure to turn on the Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA2) encryption protocol, which scrambles the data sent over the network so that third parties cannot read it. You’ll also want to use a firewall to prevent unauthorized users from accessing the network.
Consider a private network—Most home routers have the option of creating a VLAN, or virtual local area network, which allows you to create a private network just for your devices. This network could be separate from your computer network, making it impossible for cybercriminals to reach your devices through your home computers.
Alternatively, investing in a product such as Secure Home Platform will provide security to all of your connected devices, from computers and smartphones, to IoT devices.
Use comprehensive security—Services like McAfee Total Protection™ also offer cross-device support, as well as secure cloud backup to make sure that your private information is protected.