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How to Keep Your Smart Devices Secure

Steel Root systems engineer Kevin Le describes the Internet of Things and why so-called "smart" devices may pose security challenges.

Let’s face it: the Internet of Things is becoming the Internet of Everything. And it’s time to stay alert.

Sure, keeping track of it all might be hard, but cleaning up a breach is much harder. Smart and connected devices have made life easier in a number of ways—controlling lights from the couch, getting a notification when your toast is done, turning on the AC before you get home, and so on.

Whether it’s your router, security camera, printer, smart outlet, smart lights, smart locks, smart fridge, or any other smart device, each one is another entryway for potential hackers.

And once inside, those hackers have free reign to find any vulnerability they can until you notice.

How can I tell if I have a smart device?

If the only way you can use it is by physically being there, chances are it’s not a connected device. If you need to set it up and connect to your network or WiFi, or if you can control it from an app or from outside your home, it’s probably a connected device.

How can I tell if it’s secure?

Not all things are made equal. Make sure you buy your devices from a reputable source, so you can guarantee it’s genuine and not counterfeit. Those too-good-to-be-true deals might just leave you with more trouble if you aren’t careful.
Always consider who made the device. Do they have a history of good security or does their top Google result talk about how you should avoid them? Maybe you bought a device from an overseas website—is the software secure? Is it a cheap copy or knockoff? There nothing wrong with buying it, but be aware you might just need to be extra careful.

How can I keep it safe?

The first step in staying safe is making sure you have strong passwords on everything, from your network to your device, itself. Default passwords are easy to look up, so changing them should be your first priority.

A strong password can only do so much when there’s an exploit. That’s why it’s so important you make sure everything is updated. All updates are there for a reason, and most contain security patches. All your smart devices should have a webpage or app to manage these updates.

You might find it useful to make a list of all your connected devices. It might be easy to forget you have 4—or was it 5?—smart bulbs. But keeping track of them helps you ensure you get all those devices updated and can maintain maximum security.

Now what?

Live the life of the future, friends. It’s a wonderful time to be alive—and secure.