You have heard the stories. A couple learns that some nefarious character has hacked one of their video cameras and has been taunting a child with creepy messages. Another homeowner reports having a video doorbell hacked. Unfortunately, there are those people who get their thrills by hacking smart home devices.
Much of what they are able to accomplish is tied directly to the vulnerability of wi-fi networks. However, that doesn’t let hardware manufacturers off the hook. There have been plenty of reports of devices with built-in vulnerabilities that were discovered only after successful hacking attempts.
If your home is equipped with any smart devices, it is up to you to ensure your own security. The good news is that securing a smart home is not as hard as it sounds. According to Vivint Smart Home, consumers with basic network skills can employ some simple strategies to keep hackers at bay.
Start with the Router
The first tip is the most fundamental of all: secure your router by changing the username and password. All routers come with default usernames and passwords from the factory. But guess what? Those usernames and passwords are easily found online.
Your job is to log on to your router and change both. Instructions should be included in your router’s user manual. If you do not have the manual, you can find instructions online. As long as you are logging on, make sure your router is using WPA2 encryption at a minimum. If it supports WPA3, use that instead.
Most of your electronic devices rely on firmware to operate. Firmware is the minimum software required to make a device run. If you’ve never updated the firmware on your router, do so. The manufacturer should offer both software and instructions on their website. Update firmware for hubs and smart speakers, too.
Secure Mobile App Accounts
Any mobile apps you utilize to control your smart home devices should be secured. You’ve probably created usernames and passwords for each one but make a point of changing passwords every now and again. Moreover, make them as difficult as possible by combining numbers, letters, and other characters.
As a side note, make sure you write down all of your passwords and store them in a safe place. Otherwise, upgrading to a new device could force you to start new accounts with each of your mobile apps, creating a nightmare with devices that are already registered to your old account.
Utilize Two-Factor Authentication
Some of the apps and smart devices you utilize probably support two-factor authentication. Enable it for those that do. Two-factor authentication makes it more difficult for hackers to get into your devices even if they manage to penetrate your wi-fi network.
Use Multiple Networks
Modern routers often allow consumers to set up multiple networks simultaneously. You might have both 2G and 5G channels that allow you to set up two separate networks. Both of those channels might also offer guest networks. If so, you have a total four to work with.
Put your home smart devices on one of the guest networks. Use another network for your laptop computers, wireless printers, and other equipment. The idea is to isolate those devices with sensitive information so that they are not accessible even if one of your smart home devices gets hacked.
Smart homes do not have to be easy to hack. Just a few simple strategies can make an enormous difference. If you want to employ the strategies in this post but don’t know how, hire a local smart home tech to do the work for you.