Having televisions, cameras, watches, speakers, phones, tablets and other devices connected to the Internet makes our life more convenient. But, unfortunately, many of these standard “Internet of Things” (IoT) devices require us to share our personal or financial information with them, often without question.
But, there is no guarantee that the devices themselves and the information you provide will be kept safe. Although unintentional. This could expose you to cyber attacks. Or, it could unintentionally expose your personal information on the internet, mainly if providers store your personal and financial data in databases.
Don’t you think this could happen to you? Well it has been reported that hackers attack every 39 seconds. However, given the increase in remote and hybrid working, it could have increased. And, it has also been found that on average 300,000 websites are hacked daily.
So it goes without saying that the security of your smart home technology should be paramount. And, if you own a website, that is also true. But did you know that smart home technology can actually teach you about site security?
1. Change the default names and passwords.
The excitement of setting up your new smart home product can cause you to forget to change its default credentials like usernames, passwords, and wake-up words. Suffice to say that this can be a costly mistake. It’s easy for hackers to capitalize on your enthusiasm or laziness because they can easily decipher these default settings.
Again, and it cannot be emphasized enough, hackers are adept at finding common passwords and identifying personal information to crack your network. Change your smart device’s default settings to make it harder for them. Also, don’t use identifying words or numbers like birthdays. Instead, use a unique combination of letters, numbers and symbols.
If you have trouble remembering your passwords, you can try using a password manager like LastPass. Tools like this will securely remember all of your passwords so you don’t have to.
Just like with your smart devices, make your site password indecipherable. And that means don’t use the most common password, 123456. Yes. People still use it as their password after all these years.
2. Sharing is not always thoughtful.
Let’s be frank. There is no way to manage smart devices other than the ones you know. However, taking an inventory of your smart home devices can help you identify when someone is trying to access your network. In addition to letting you quickly identify who has access, you can also set names for each of your devices and grant access to those who know.
Maintain a list of all devices and users connected to your network. And make sure they all have the latest software installed.
As for website owners, the same concept applies. For example, if you are a business owner, only allow the right team members to access the site. That would probably only mean content creators or your IT department. If your accountant doesn’t write blog posts for you, they probably don’t need the site’s login credentials.
3. Keep up to date with the latest and greatest.
Make sure all of your IoT devices are updated with the latest firmware and patches if you want them to be smart and secure. After all, most updates are the result of a security hole found in the old version that hackers exploited.
In short, using outdated software is like leaving your back door unlocked. So always keep your website up to date. This is especially true if you are using a CMS that has various valuable plugins and extensions as it is the main cause of website infections.
Overall, keep an up-to-date content management system, plugins, apps, and any scripts you use on your website to keep it safe from hackers.
You can quickly check your status if you have a WordPress website by logging into your WordPress dashboard. Your site name will be located in the upper left corner next to the update icon. From there, just click on the number to see what WordPress updates are available.
4. Enable multi-factor authentication.
You need to confirm your identity using two different methods when signing in with two-factor authentication. For example, after entering your password, a text message with a code will be sent to your cell phone. After receiving the code, you will enter the program or device you are trying to access between a few seconds and a few minutes later.
However, not all smart home devices support this extra layer of security. So you should stick to devices that have this feature.
5. Beware of prying eyes and ears.
Whenever a device responds to a voice command, it is constantly listening. This is why it is common for Amazon Echo (“Alexa”) and Google Home Assistant (“Hey, Google”) to record sensitive conversations.
Having your devices connected to a speaker with a microphone means hackers can easily access what you say, like your vacation plans and passwords. However, just muting these devices can be the quick fix to this dilemma.
If you are using smart technology when using your site, this is good advice. But, in addition to disabling these devices, be aware that hackers can spy on your screen. It’s not exactly a new tactic. But, for those who are not in the know, attackers do so by redirecting you to a site that mirrors sites you trust, like logging into your website or banking website.
Another way for these evil individuals to steal sensitive data is to randomly record on your webcam to retrieve your passwords as you enter them. To avoid this, use some techniques already described, such as two-factor authentication and updating your site.
Also avoid interacting with pirated material. Be careful when clicking on suspicious links or suspicious emails. And don’t use USB drives that don’t belong to you.
6. Secure your network.
Connecting to an unsecured network is never a good idea! Hackers can access any data you transmit through your smart home device using public WiFi.
Most ISPs provide a web portal or an application that users can use to view devices connected to the network and change settings such as network IDs and encryption levels.
There isn’t much of a gap here for website owners. Always protect your site by only connecting to secure networks. Also, if you have customers who provide payment information, only use HTTPS. And install SSL. SSL certificates protect the communication between your website and the server by encrypting information.
7. Have a backup plan.
Instead of the main Wi-Fi networks on your computer and mobile devices, join a separate guest network for your smart home. Why? Because smart devices can’t get infected until they’re connected to your main network.
As for the site owners, they could be regularly on the go to protect you against the worst case scenario.
While a data breach is stressful no matter what, having a recent backup means you’re more likely to recover quickly. You can make daily or weekly backups of your website a habit. Or invest in automatic backups if you think you might be forgetting to do so. This way you will always be protected.
8. Monitor users.
In today’s world, where children are spending more and more time on devices, it is essential to set age settings appropriately. Unfortunately, in most cases, hackers will gain access to children’s websites and videos through what appear to be harmless links.
I am by no means implying that you are treating your team like children. But, you should teach them the basics if they can connect to your site.
For example, set standards for all website users in terms of characters and length when it comes to passwords. If your team members want to use 123456 on their personal accounts, that’s provocative. But, that won’t fly when it comes to your business.
You can also educate them on the most common cyber threats, such as phishing scams and the dangers of public WiFi.
Image Credit: Cottonbro; Pexels; Thank you!
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