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Securing Smart Devices

Our lives are increasingly full of internet-connected devices: smart TVs, video game consoles, e-readers, fitness trackers, virtual assistants like Alexa and Google....

All these devices and more are part of what’s called the Internet of Things (IoT), the world’s collection of everyday objects that connect to the internet. But these gadgets can put you and your data at risk.

How to Secure your Smart Devices:

Tips for ALL devices

  • Change the default username and password: If your device came with a default username and password out of the box, change them. When you set a new password, don’t reuse one from another account. Hackers sometimes use stolen usernames and passwords from data breaches to hack your other accounts.
  • Use 2-step verification: If a device offers 2-step verification (a password plus something else, like a code sent to your phone), use it.
  • Set up the security features on your device: Take advantage of your device’s security features, like enabling encryption or setting up a passcode lockout to add another layer of protection to your device.
  • Update your device regularly: Check for updates to the firmware (the software on the device). You may need to do this on the manufacturer’s website. Also, if your device is accessible through an app on your phone, use the most up-to-date version of the app.
  • Disable or disconnect what you don’t use: Disable features you won’t use. If you won’t use remote management, it’s best to disable it. Also, disconnect older devices you no longer use from the network. Their security may be out of date, creating a weak point on your network.

Additional tips for Smart TVs

Change your TV’s tracking settings to match your privacy preferences and remove apps that you don’t use. They can collect data on your behavior even when you’re not using them.

Additional tips for Amazon Echo, Google Nest, and other Voice Assistants 

Look for settings to mute your device so it’s no longer listening. You might also be able to activate alerts that tell you when your voice assistant is actively listening.

Periodically, look at your history, or even delete old recordings. You can usually do this by going to the voice assistant app or logging into your account on the manufacturer’s website. You may also be able to set it to auto-delete your recordings.

Add additional security layers to prevent others in your space from accessing connected accounts: 

  • Add a PIN to control whether others (like your roommates, friends, or children) can use voice commands to buy things.
  • Check to see if you can add a passcode for access to your email.

Additional tips for IP cameras

Many IP cameras (like baby, pet, or security cams) are vulnerable to digital surveillance. So, in addition to changing the default settings, check the camera’s access logs regularly for unauthorized access. Look for things like IP addresses you don’t recognize or odd access times that don’t fit your normal patterns. You can check the logs through your administrative settings. For more advice, read the Federal Trade Commission’s article on Using IP Cameras Safely.


Additional Resources