Internet of Things – How to Protect Your Home Devices

The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing a lot about the world you live in. Everything from the way you drive to the way you pay for coffee is changing thanks to IoT. Intelligent sensors and chips are built into the things around you, and then they transmit data. The data they collect helps the devices work better individually and as a whole.

This large amount of data can be used to improve a factory, monitor hospital patients and even better your home life. Interestingly enough, the IoT is probably already happening in your home. Are you able to control your home thermostat or lighting from your phone? If not, you probably will be able to in a couple of decades from now.

Soon, your home will be able to memorize your habits and even read your facial expressions. If this is hard to imagine, here’s what a normal day for you could look like in a mere two decades:

Your alarm wakes you up at a time that aligns with your sleep patterns to help you feel refreshed. Your wardrobe analyzes the weather forecast and your calendar to provide you with a suitable outfit to wear. In the bathroom, sensors measure your blood pressure and your pulse. If anything is out of the norm, the information will automatically be sent to your physician. When you make breakfast, your kitchen shows you a recipe that utilizes ingredients that are about to spoil so you can use them in time.

If you’re wondering how you will adapt to this new life, you’re not alone. Although a lot will change over time, information protection will have to advance rapidly to help keep your information safe. Below, you’ll find practical tips and information on protecting yourself in this new age.

What You Can Do Now

Change Your Router’s Password

If you have a home router, you may still be using its standard password. Unfortunately, it’s fairly easy for a hacker to gain access to your home internet by guessing your password. There are similarities between default passwords on routers, which makes gaining access to them quick and simple.

To protect yourself from an attack, change your password every three months. When you come up with a new password, try to make sure it is at least eight characters long. Ideally, it’ll have a lower-case letter, upper-case letter, number and some sort of punctuation mark. Another sound practice is to use characters that look alike to confuse potential hackers. For example, you could use both the letter S and the dollar sign in your password because they look very similar.

Keep Programs Current

Nearly every year, manufacturers and software providers offer product updates. Many times, people neglect to update their software because they assume that the new version will only offer new features. Some updates include improvement or advancements, but their main purpose is generally security related.

When your devices are updated, you can rest assured that you’re benefiting from the latest protection. Every month, look at your various IoT devices and see whether or not there is a new version to upload.

Hint: right now, you can benefit from checking your router’s model number and looking to see whether or not there’s an update available. A recent study identified a huge vulnerability in the majority of modern routers, and the only way to protect yourself is with an update. If you need more support or information regarding how you can update your router, reach out to HelpCloud.

Invest in Computer Protection Software

Computer security software is another important layer in protecting your personal information. With the right program, your computer will benefit from strong firewall and malware protection.

A firewall helps block out hackers and viruses that try to reach your computer over the internet. Malware is a software that can damage and disable your computer as well as steal your personal information.

Understand the Information Your Devices Collect

Many smartphone users are unaware that their devices collect, store and share information about them. When you use Google, for example, you trust them with your data. They collect data on the things you search, websites you visit, videos you watch, your location and more. They also store emails you send and receive on Gmail, photos and videos you upload and your calendar events. In addition, they collect more personal information about you, such as your name, birthday and phone number.

As a responsible technology user, it is up to you to be clear about the information your devices collect and why. If a company wants to understand what you do, what you create and who you are, you should understand exactly why they want this information and what they do with it once it’s collected.

Monitor Connected Devices

To protect your home information, look at how your devices connect and their various privileges. For example, if you run a home thermostat from your phone, you probably only want to make sure it’s only able to control the temperature of your home. You don’t want your thermostat to communicate with your front door lock or vice versa.

Make sure your devices and applications are not communicating without barriers. Although you want some connected devices to communicate, they don’t all need to have the same privileges.

Things to Do Over Time

Improve Your Home Security System

As the IoT expands, home security systems will do a not more than protect a home from intruders. More advanced systems can control the lights when you’re away and even call emergency responders on your behalf.

When you update to an advanced home security system, you’ll be able to monitor your home’s energy use and run its electricity from afar. If you’re on vacation and forget to turn an appliance off, you can use your phone to turn the appliance off. While you’re away, you can ensure that different lights are left on at different times, giving the appearance that you’re home.

Another option is to invest in indoor and outdoor security cameras that can protect your home while you’re away. The IoT will allow you to monitor your residence, regardless of where you are.

Finger Scanning Devices

Just one decade ago, finger scanning devices seemed like a distant idea. Today, they’re routinely used in smartphone and laptop technology. In another ten years, chances are that fingerprint scanning devices will become quite common in homes.

This technology should make it more difficult to pick locks. In some ways, every device with fingerprint verification will have an extra level of security.

Disable Plug and Play

The IoT wants gadgets to discover other gadgets. Unfortunately, this is exactly what hackers want. When a lot of devices are connected, it’s easier for a hacker to exploit them. To protect yourself from this, you can disable plug and play features so your network devices won’t discover and connect themselves without your permission.

Make a New Network

Right now, any IoT devices you have probably run on your main network. In the future, you’ll want to run your IoT devices on a separate network. This way your devices can use the internet, but they won’t be able to connect to your computer and other critical data.

Unplug Your Devices

This piece of advice may seem too simple to work, but it is one of the best ways to decrease your vulnerability. Whenever you’re not using your IoT devices, disconnect them from the internet. If they’re not connected, it’ll be much harder for an attacker to gain access and take advantage of you.

Protection Matters

In addition to understanding how you can protect yourself, it’s important to know why you should protect yourself. People often forget that their IoT devices are constantly connected to the internet. This fact makes them extremely susceptible to hacks.

Additionally, the IoT is so new it’s hard for manufacturers to know what security systems they should embed into their products. Industries understand how to protect more familiar technology, like computers, but they’re struggling to decide how manufactures and consumers will safeguard themselves in this new age.

Measures Are Underway

IoT security is becoming a level of greater concern, even to the federal government. Security firms and manufactures are working tirelessly to insure that the IoT world is a safe and beneficial place. Microsoft recently announced that it will add encryption protection to Windows 10. This will help secure on-device data and decrease the frequency of hack successes.

A group of tech firms have also created a non-profit named the Internet of Things Security Foundation that will vet internet-connected devices for vulnerabilities and offer security assistance to manufacturers and consumers.

The IoT Opportunity

With every good thing, there’s a downside. The IoT will allow you to do things you never before imagined. That being said, it’s an extremely attractive target for cybercriminals that puts your personal information at risk.

As more of your devices have IoT capabilities, hackers will have more opportunities to target you. As such, now is the time to address security concerns and prepare for the future so it can be filled with more upsides than downsides.

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About the author

Photo of Erik Fullmer

Erik Fullmer

Erik was raised in many places but has long since called Utah home. Rooted in mountains, he spends a lot of time with his dogs in the mountains and in the winter he skis… a lot.

Erik is actively earning the necessary certifications and training to become a certified AMGA Ski Guide.

With over a decade of content writing experience, Erik finds passion when writing for the tech and outdoor recreation industries.