The Top Tips on How to Secure IoT Devices in 2021

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If you are like most homeowners, you aren’t exactly sure how to secure IoT devices.  IoT is an acronym for the internet of things.  As time progresses, more smart appliances and components are hitting the market.  These intelligent devices provide considerable utility yet they also pose security risks.  If you aren’t careful, your smart home devices will be hacked, yielding control to tech miscreants rather than you, the homeowner.  ONIT is here to help properly secure your home.  Here is a look at IoT, its potential security pitfalls and how to secure IoT devices.

Recognize the Inherent Risk and Learn How to Secure IoT Devices

It won’t be long until the vast majority of homes have smart appliances and devices.  The potential downside to connecting such machines to the internet is they store personal data about the homeowner and his or her family.  If this data is improperly accessed, it will reveal information about your way of life and potentially provide criminals with highly sensitive information that is worth money on the black market.

Even one weak link within the network can spell trouble.  Every single IoT device in your home should be completely secure.  Otherwise, you run the risk that hackers will steal and improperly use personal information.  The last thing you need is for thieves to access your banking information or information pertaining to your work schedule.  It is even possible for such evildoers to access microphones and smart cameras within your home, providing a clear look at you and your family 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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Use a Distinct Network for IoT Devices

The wireless network you use for web surfing, streaming video and playing video games should not be the same as that used for your IoT devices.  Set up a completely unique network for these web-connected smart machines.  A distinct network for IoT devices protects the primary network against IoT attacks.  You and your family members will be the only individuals who can access the smart home network.  This way, if hackers access the IoT network, they will not be able to tap into your smartphone, laptop or desktop computer on the network.

Mind the Router

Most people set up their home wireless router once and forget about it.  However, if the router you use for IoT devices is not set up the right way, it will cause problems.  The wireless router is the primary access point to your smart home.  Invest in a high-quality router and change its default name to one that does not include the make and model.  Change the default login/password to a string of letters, numbers and special characters.  The password should be at least 10 characters in length.  If you are struggling to create a password that is impenetrable, use a randomized password generation tool to create a complex password hackers cannot crack.

Encryption Matters

Using anything but the highest level of encryption for your dedicated IoT network is a mistake.  If you own a router that only provides basic WEP or WPA protocols, replace that router as soon as possible.  The router you select should have WPA2 and WPA3 support.  Keep in mind, hackers will zero in on your home network so it must be as secure as possible.  Secure your IoT router with the advice set forth above and you will rest easy knowing you have done your part to safeguard this essential network, protecting your web-connected devices as well as your personal information.

Use Unique Credentials for all IoT Devices

Each IoT device and account should have idiosyncratic credentials.  In other words, it is a mistake to use a single password for all devices within the home that are connected to the web.  Though committing each unique password to memory is annoying, it is worth the effort.  You can also write down those passwords and store them in a part of the home everyone in your family frequents during the typical day.  A password management tool is also worth considering.  This helpful password management tool stores each distinct password and syncs them to their respective devices.

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Update Each Device

Update the wireless router’s firmware on your own as soon as the opportunity arises.  Contrary to popular opinion, wireless router firmware does not automatically update.  Rather, it is up to you to download updates that commonly include digital security patches that bolster your network security all the more.  Perform a manual check once every couple months to determine if firmware updates are pending.  If you find such updates in the queue, install them without delay.

Some IoT appliances do not update on their own, instead prompting to homeowner to manually implement the update.  Seize the opportunity to perform such manual updates as soon as possible and you will sleep soundly knowing your IoT appliances and devices are well-protected.

Not Using a Feature?  Disable It!

Today’s IoT devices are laden with all sorts of features, some of which you won’t use in the years ahead or at all.  If you strictly use IoT devices on your home’s wireless connection, turn off the remote access.  As an example, your smart TV likely has voice control.  However, this feature will not be used in many households.  There is no sense leaving the microphone on when you aren’t using your voice to control your TV.  Hackers have advanced to the point that they can access such microphones to listen in on activity within the home.  Disable every single feature you do not use on your IoT devices and you will have done your part to prevent improper access.

Implement the Right Firewall

Routers already have firewalls yet those basic lines of defense aren’t exactly the most secure.  Your smart devices should be protected by a next-generation firewall.  This integrated network platform makes use of a conventional firewall fortified with additional protective functions.  Such functions include malware protection, an intrusion prevention system, threat interception and a virtual private network only you can access.  Though a next-generation firewall costs additional money, it will help safeguard your valuable smart devices and appliances.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication requires that individuals attempting to access the network or the smart devices on the network type in a second password.  This additional security layer ensures hackers cannot access the network and devices without both passwords.  There is no need to memorize two lengthy passwords when using multi-factor authentication.  Rather, a single-time passcode can be transmitted to your email or phone for quick and easy access.  If your smart device was not sold with multi-factor authentication included, you can add it with the Google Authenticator or a similar app.

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Never use a Public Wireless Network

If you don’t want to burden your current wireless network with an additional smart appliance, recognize the inherent danger of public wireless networks.  Use a virtual private network (VPN) that is completely secure, restricts access to family members and allows for remote access after the proper password is entered.

Do not use the Same or Similar Passwords

Even if you invest a couple minutes of your time brainstorming a lengthy password with more than 10 letters, numbers and special characters, it is a mistake to use it on all smart devices and appliances.  Each IoT device or appliance should have its own respective complex password.  These passwords should not have common themes such:

  • Pet’s name
  • Street name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your anniversary date
  • Any other identifying features criminals could find out about you or your family

Digital miscreants really will try all different combinations of your surname, street name, address, date of birth, pet’s name and other personally relevant information to access your network.

Universal Plug and Play is Risky

Universal Plug and Play, commonly referred to with the acronym of UPnP, certainly ramps up the utility of smart devices yet it also facilitates use without the proper safeguards.  UPnP opens the door for hackers to access all IoT machines in your home by way of the local network.  Turn off this feature and make it clear to your kids and others who live in your home that it is never to be turned on again.

Disconnect IoT Appliances When not in Use

There is no reason to leave your IoT appliances connected to the network when you are on a lengthy vacation.  Unless you want your home to be illuminated at specific times through a smart lighting system or temperature-controlled when you are away from home for an extended period of time, disconnect those appliances and devices.  Furthermore, if you do not use your smart TV to access the web, disconnect it from the network.

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ONIT Smart Security is on Your Side

Taking even a slight chance with your home security is not worth the risk.  ONIT is here to help with all of your smart home security needs.  We provide ‘round the clock monitoring systems, smart security services and plenty more.  We tailor each of our products and tech services to your specific security needs and the nuances of your unique home.  Reach out to us today at 1-800-610-2145 to find out more about how to secure IoT devices.