7 ways to protect your smart home from hackers in 2023

The IoT has made smart homes a reality for many. However, anything connected to the internet is hackable.

In 2021, smart homes in the UK faced 12,000 hacks a week and an alarming 35% of US homes suffered an attack. This number is expected to increase by 21% annually, representing 174,000 annual incidents and an incidence rate of 42% in 2023.

Are you sure your smart home is 100% secure? Or are you worried about being hacked through a single vulnerable device serving as a door into your home?

There are things you can do to protect yourself and your family from intruders and dangers now in 2023.

Ways to secure your smart devices and home

Tip #1: Get to know your smart devices

To effectively protect your home and privacy, you must:

  • Identify which devices are connected or able to connect to the internet.
  • Evaluate what security features they have or are available.
  • Look at the connectivity between the devices.

These intelligent devices form a system. If one is vulnerable and is attacked, the others can also be affected or infected. You need to protect all members of your smart device network.

Tip #2: Balance your real needs against the risk

It’s easy to fall in love with the fantastic range of gadgets that make our lives easier and more fun. Whether it’s a smart lock, thermostat, door camera, or smart lighting, weigh convenience against potential threats to your privacy.

Is it okay if your personal assistant listens 24/7? Could cameras be aimed at you instead of being a watchful, protective presence? ask yourself:

  • Do I really need this device? If not, don’t buy it.
  • Are there features on my devices that I don’t need or use? If yes, disable them.
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The goal is to limit potential entry points into your home.

Tip #3: Only buy smart home devices from reputable brands

The state of the world economy in 2023 is felt by many people and therefore the temptation to buy the cheapest product can be great. While even tech brand names can be hacked, it’s far more likely that they have taken steps to protect the device (and their reputation).

These security measures often include regular software and security updates and clearly articulated privacy policies.

Tip #4: Secure your WiFi network

The first area of ​​WiFi and network security for your home in 2023 is getting your router set up correctly. After all, the router is the digital gateway to your home, so it needs to be secure. Routers are sold with default settings, including a password.

Using the provided manual and/or manufacturer’s website, you must:

  • Change the router’s default name (and don’t use the word “router”).
  • Create a unique, secure password for your Wi-Fi network.
  • In the settings, select WPA2 encryption.
  • Get a free VPN trial from a reputable provider and see how your WiFi network can be protected.
  • Activate the available firewall.
  • Check with your service provider/router manufacturer on how to perform security updates.

Simply relying on default settings and passwords makes it much easier for hackers to gain access to your devices and home. You need to take a more active and proactive role.

Tip #5: Back up every smart home device

Once your router and network are secure, it’s time to turn your attention to each smart device in your home. There is no getting around the fact that this initially takes time, but the investment is worth it.

  • Many smart devices are controlled through a connected app, and you need to set up an account for each one.
  • Each device/account requires a unique password so the others are still protected in the event of a breach. You could use a password manager to generate and “remember” them all for you.
  • Set the highest available privacy and security settings on each of your devices and disable remote access until or unless you need it.
  • You can also enable two or more factor authentication as an extra layer of protection. This makes it harder for a hacker as they would need login, password and authentication code.
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After these safety precautions have been taken, it is still important to carry out the maintenance procedures described below.

Tip #6: Update your devices regularly

Low-level software, called firmware, powers routers and most smart devices. New features and bug fixes are rolled out by the providers over the Internet.

If the device is connected, it should receive them. One way to increase the chance of getting all those valuable changes and updates is to register your smart device with the manufacturer upon purchase.

Other devices require you to choose to receive security patches, etc., and you are strongly advised to opt-in to avoid being attacked for unpatched vulnerabilities.

Although you could choose automatic updates, there is a potential risk of receiving downloads from third parties, including potentially malicious or criminal ones. Alternatively, as part of your online hygiene practices, check for updates regularly and use the updates as soon as you receive them.

Tip #7: Share the network

Another layer of security can be achieved by setting up a secondary or “guest” network. One should have devices such as laptops that contain sensitive information at home.

The other is intended for devices that do not contain or provide access to personally identifiable information. In other words, if someone hacks into an unsecured device like a smart Christmas tree or your fridge, they won’t be able to get into your computer files as well.

Final Thoughts

Smart homes are vulnerable because the devices that make them so are connected to the internet. You run the risk of being hacked by third parties, attacked and – in the worst case – controlled from outside.

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Since these devices have little built-in security, it’s up to you to create them by following these seven steps. If you do this, your home is far less likely to be attacked by hackers out for theft or mischief.

As smart homes and cybercrime continue to ramp up in 2023, the need to be proactive when it comes to security is high.