9 Ways to Keep your Smart Home Safe

Smart technology is ever developing alongside the Internet of Things (IoT), but with more devices comes more opportunity for hackers, phishers and saboteurs to get into your devices and gain control.

You wouldn’t leave the doors and windows open when you leave the house – and the same applies for your smart technology. Learn how to keep your smart home safe.


Smart home technology - entry points through phones and apps Smart Home Safety: Where Might Hackers Try to Enter?

Think of all your devices. A hacker can gain access and control of a device and use functions and features – for example, downloading data, using cameras and preventing you accessing it.

Whilst hacking the actual device in question is an option, it is often far easier to hack a phone or app that controls it, or a wifi connection linked to it, so consider the whole chain of connectivity for your smart home.

Remember that sometimes it is not control or use of the device the hacker wants – some will hack apps that show activity patterns to know when you are out, and burgle your house the old fashioned way.


1: Passwords

We’ve heard it all before – but keeping passwords secure is so important to smart home security. Use a combination of upper and lower case, symbols and numbers, but try not to use chains of numbers, easy words (like your name) or the same password for everything. Don’t make it easy!


Computer screen - update your equipment & keep your smart home safe 2: Update your Stuff

Making sure all the latest updates are installed on all your devices is vital. With each update comes a host of new information  and patches for your device to defend against harmful or destructive vulnerabilities – for example, the recent Wannacry attacks were followed by updates for most devices to protect against the new-found information.


3: Buy Trusted Brands

There is a reason that brands are trusted – the cheap knock-off equivalent at the local market just won’t cut the mustard. Go with reliable and renowned brands who offer strong customer support – and ask them for security tips with your new devices.

Also have a look at built in security measures on your new device – for example, Nest offer 2 step authentification for logging in, making it more secure than just a password. Generally more trusted brands will provide better security and keep your smart home safe.


4: Hide your Wifi

Firstly, make sure your wifi is set up to use WPA or WPA2 settings, instead of the weakest option, WEP, which is often the default.

Secondly, disable guest networks – this is a good starting point to make it harder to get in and keep your smart home safe.


5: Create Two Wifi Networks

Create 2 wifi networks if your router is a ‘dual band’ version – create one network for secure shopping, banking and sensitive data, and one for general use like phones and gadgets. This means that if a hacker gets access to the less secure network, the other one is still safe.


6: Switch Off Unused Features

Lots of the features that come switched on as default are never used by the owner. Run through your devices to make sure any unused features are switched off to reduce the routes available for hackers to get into your devices to keep your smart home safe.


7: Create a Perimeter Fence

Any devices that it is possible to add security software to, do it! Smart phones are a key device to ensure antivirus and firewall are installed on, as this can be a gateway for hackers to access other devices in your smart home.

There are lots of free options as well as great paid software – try this Which? review on antivirus, or Techradar on firewalls, to work out which one is best for you.


8: Usernames

Change your wifi username to something a bit random, obscure – or even comical. Just as long as it isn’t the basic random numbers and letters you got when it was sent to you, or your name – anything that makes it easy to identify that you or your home are the owner of the network.

[Need ideas? Our fave comedy names are ‘Pretty Fly for a Wi-Fi’, ‘Martin Router King’, and ‘the LAN Before Time’ – get creative!]


9: UTM/USM Appliances

If your home is super connected and filled with smart technology then you may need something more. UTM (Unified Threat Management) or USM (Unified Security Management) appliances are defined as:

“The evolution of the traditional firewall into an all-inclusive security product able to perform multiple security functions within one single system: network firewalling, network intrusion detection/prevention (IDS/IPS), gateway antivirus (AV), gateway anti-spam, VPN, content filtering, load balancing, data loss prevention, and on-appliance reporting”

Sounds impressive – but we would recommend getting some professional advice if you are looking into this option to make sure you get the ideal solution to keep your smart home safe.