Smart home and privacy-15 Ways to secure your home
May 9, 2020
Living in a smart home is really enjoyable. Music is played just by voice command, the smart thermostat makes sure the temperature is nice in the house, the smart oven cooks without assistance, the smart camera captures everything and alerts the user of any suspicious activity and so on . The user gets to monitor everything on their phone or tablet.
In fact, people are buying more and more smart devices for their homes like never before. In the next 10 years, I believe that the majority of homes are going to have at least a smart device at the home plus of course, their smart phones and tablets .
However, smart home and privacy don’t always go hand in hand. A lot of data are collected and shared from a device to another among all the connected devices in a home (Internet of things also known as IoT) . If personal data are accessed by a hacker it could be a big problem. They could access everything. By everything i mean , privacy with family when at home , bank account passwords and more. That is why it is important to know how to protect our privacy when living in a smart home.
Here are some ways to protect our privacy when living in a smart home:
1. Choose the right brand of smart device
-Big brands company like Google, Amazon, etc, usually have good consumer reviews.
-They invest each year a lot of money to make sure their customers are secured.
-If they sell a product which has privacy security flaws and people get to know about it they could get in trouble and lose a lot of money and credibility.
-Smaller companies which are new in the business are more likely to have their devices with security flaws than the big companies who have already proven themselves to be trust worthy.
-But wait ! Don’t judge the book by the cover. There are also emerging companies in the industry which consummers are saying they are good, so, check for the reviews before buying.
-Knowing the device to buy is a good thing as the devices share different type of personal of information and have different configurations and settings .
-Some devices share data with third parties. This why you could see an advertisement pup op on the screen of your phone, an advertisement about a product you thought about. Am I the only one who wondered how it happens ?Really ?
-Devices store personal data differently, some use Dropbox, others google drive, One drive and more and more, it all goes in the cloud.
-Before buying, know about the policy of the brand, the protection they offer in case of data breach or leak.
2. Create an username with a strong password for all your devices
-Most people use their smart devices with the default username which comes with the devices. I have done this myself,it is not a good idea. Yes, it takes 2 extra minutes to set up another username,2 minutes which worth it, reducing the risk of losing privacy online.
-It is easier to use the same password in many places than having to set up a new one each time which might be forgotten. This habit is not recommended. If the password is leaked on one device, hackers may try it on other devices the victim uses.
-“12345” and “abcde” are some passwords people use that are easy to guess. A strong password need to be hard to guess, it may include different characters, numbers,signs,uppercase letter, lowercase letter, etc.
-Strong password are easy to forget once set. That is where a password manager application becomes handy. It keeps all the passwords secured and organized .
3. Create a guest network for visitors at home or hide your password
-The router is like the front door of a house in the IoT world .
-If the router is hacked,you are done !
-Give a name to the router, don’t live the name of the router as “admin”.
-For WiFi access, also create a strong password
-I have seen some WiFi network before which don’t require any password to connect. It is not a good idea.
-Don’t share your WiFi password with everybody, it is too risky
-Consider creating a guest network just for the visitors .
-Keep your main WiFi for yourself with your password and create a guest network for visitors.
4. Turn off the microphone on the smart speaker when not using
-smart speakers which have the voice command feature usually have a microphone which can be turned on and off .
-when the microphone is on, it listens to everything from the wake word to every conversation at a distance at which it can hear .
-When turned off it can hear nothing. Sometimes when not using it, turn it off, give it a break and keep your privacy.
-There is also a possibility to erase all the recorded conversation on the smart speakers.
5. Place your smart camera at the right place
-Choose where to put the smart camera carefully and at which angle
-It is not recommended putting one where it is not needed
-Some smart cameras uploads videos to the web automatically, make sure to check out the settings to disable these kinds of functions.
6. Update software and apps on all the devices when an update is due
-Update the software not allow devices to work smoothly and faster at the same time
-Updates keep the smart device secured, they keep away malicious files
-Update both the software of the device and the applications regularly starting .
-Some router also have the update feature. If a router has this feature update it regularly as well.
7. Install an antivirus on your devices
-Choose brand of antivirus which is known and has a lot of experience and has good consumer reviews.
-Some Antivirus are just not good enough, take the time to choose a good one, it worth it. Better be safe than sorry
-It is recommended to read them however
-Don’t click on I have read all and leave, read the whole thing, it might save you some security trouble
-Applications collect a lot of personal data, it is better to be careful when signing up.
9. Check out the settings of all the applications on a smart device
-Go through the settings,disable features not needed and enable the ones needed
-Don’t allow or give permissions to distrusted applications .
-If an application is classified distrusted by the device security system, no one should trust that application neither.
-Messages will usually pop up on the screen and ask to give permission or deny, read them carefully before taking action
10. Public WiFi are good and bad at the same time
-A public WiFi can definitely be used in a case of emergency but it may not be safe on some cases.
-Hackers like to fish their victim on public WiFi
-Before using public WiFi,it is recommended to disable all the features on your device which could expose personal data .
11. Enable the 2 steps verification in the log in process
More and more applications use 2 steps to verify who is trying to login :
-A username is entered, a password and the log in button is clicked (step 1)
-A message or email is sent to a personal smart device. The message or email asks for confirmation, the user has to confirm before they get access(Step2).
12.Devices grow old, upgrade them when needed
-Newer devices are mostly designed for more security
-Old devices may not find compatible software update after sometimes
-A device with a software which is not up to date is not secure.
13. Consider using a virtual private network ( also known as VPN)
– It hides the internet protocol (IP)
– It keeps the user anonymous by encrypting personal data
-With a VPN,even using a public WiFi is a no issue.
-To obtain a VPN, create an account at a VPN service provider .
-There are many VPN services provider, one example would be ExpressVPN.
14. Setting up a home automation system?Get help from professionals
-Professionals could have more insight about how to wire and have the IoT system more secure
-They could know which combination of devices works the best
-They could answer all the questions the user might have
-After installation, they could help to troubleshoot the IoT system in case something is not working properly.
15. Factory reset devices when not needed anymore
-The factory reset of a device erases everything
-No personal data are going to be left behind in a device
-The device goes back to first use settings in case someone else is going to use it
Privacy is power
-Using smart devices forgetting privacy ,is like forgetting to close the door when leaving home
-Without privacy,everything is exposed
-Yes, smart devices are great and sometimes it is tempting to not care about privacy
-Let’s stay safe friends,let’s keep our privacy,let’s secure our smart devices and our smart homes.
In closing ,I just want to remind you to leave a comment or a question,tell me what you think about smart homes and privacy.let’s continue discuss about this in the comments.Thank you for reading my article .
-IoT (Internet of Things) : A system of interrelated devices which once connected to a network can share the user’s personal data between them back and forth .
-VPN (Virtual Private network): It is a virtual network which can be signed up to.it helps to protect from hackers,it improves security when the user is using the internet by hiding all the personal data and the IP address of the user.
-IP address (Internet protocol address): It is a number which represent any device which connects to a computer network using internet protocol for communication.
-Internet Protocol :Rules which regulate the type and format of data who are sent on the internet