/>
X

How to protect your connected home and Internet of Things devices

ZDNet provides a number of tips to protect the IoT devices installed in your smart home.
1.jpg
1 of 6 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Check your passwords

After you've setup your Internet of Things (IoT) devices, check out password options. Unfortunately, not all vendors will allow you to change default settings -- but where possible, you should do so as soon as possible. It takes only a quick search online to find lists and lists of default passwords for connected home devices, granting attackers a gateway into your home and a way to install backdoors on your network.

When you are able to change them, use strong and unique passwords. If you have trouble remembering passwords for different accounts, consider using a vault such as Lastpass.

5.jpg
2 of 6 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Modify privacy and security settings

When it comes to security, less is not more. You might be raring to go, but skipping security checks and thinking "I'll do it later," means you probably won't bother -- which may place your devices and yourself at risk.

Take ten minutes to see what security options your device offers -- whether it be password protection, user accounts or remote control options. Make sure they work for you.

4.jpg
3 of 6 Charlie Osborne | ZDNet

Use strong encryption methods when setting up Wi-Fi

The majority of IoT devices, by their very nature, require connection to a Wi-Fi network. If this network is not properly protected, you are granting attackers the keys to your connected kingdom. WPA2, one of the better security and encryption options commonly used, should always be enabled -- and once again, you should make sure your Wi-Fi is protected with a strong password. If you leave your Wi-Fi network open you may find not only that neighbors are jumping on, but they can access shared resources and discover what other devices are on the network.

Don't forget to disable guest access at the same time.

See also: Security practices from the experts

6.jpg
4 of 6 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Install updates when they become available

IoT device vendors need to catch up when it comes to keeping firmware up-to-date and protected against exploit.

Researchers are constantly finding vulnerabilities in the firmware of connected home devices, and while it may not be possible to prevent attacks on each device, updates are a critical component of patching up security flaws before they becoming exploited.

Whenever updates are made available -- usually sent as an alert through device applications -- make sure you update as quickly as possible.

3.jpg
5 of 6 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Wired or wireless?

It's not always possible, but wired connections are generally more secure than wireless, and so if you can connect your IoT devices in this way, do it. If you're relying on Wi-Fi and willing to put in the time, listing the MAC addresses -- which are device IDs, not just for Apple products -- of each connected device and granting IP assignment only to these devices can also prevent others from snooping around your home network. Remember, the network is the gateway to everything else, and it's up to us to secure this door as much as possible.

Ideally, placing devices on a separate home network would be best -- but in reality this is unlikely to happen.

7.jpg
6 of 6 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Be careful when buying second-hand IoT devices

If you're set to buy used or second-hand devices, keep in mind that you did not have control over the networks the device may have been connected to. These devices may have been tampered with and the firmware may be old. It's a risk to take them on, but if you must, limit used IoT devices to non-critical functions such as lighting -- rather than smart doors or anything which could compromise your home. There are tools out there for the security-minded to use, but in general, it's best to not use second-hand devices or otherwise, try to keep them on their own standalone home network.

Read on: The best gadgets for a smart, connected home

Related Galleries

A weekend with Google's Chrome OS Flex
img-9792-2

Related Galleries

A weekend with Google's Chrome OS Flex

22 Photos
Cybersecurity flaws, customer experiences, smartphone losses, and more: ZDNet's research roundup
shutterstock-1024665187.jpg

Related Galleries

Cybersecurity flaws, customer experiences, smartphone losses, and more: ZDNet's research roundup

8 Photos
Inside a fake $20 '16TB external M.2 SSD'
Full of promises!

Related Galleries

Inside a fake $20 '16TB external M.2 SSD'

8 Photos
Hybrid working, touchscreen MacBook hopes, cybersecurity concerns, and more: ZDNet's tech research roundup
Asian woman working at a desk in front of a computer and calculator

Related Galleries

Hybrid working, touchscreen MacBook hopes, cybersecurity concerns, and more: ZDNet's tech research roundup

8 Photos
Developer trends, zero-day risks, 5G speeds, and more: Tech research roundup
Person seated at a booth in a cafe looks at their phone and laptop.

Related Galleries

Developer trends, zero-day risks, 5G speeds, and more: Tech research roundup

10 Photos
Drive Electric Day: A dizzying array of EVs in sunny Florida
ca3b4019-26c5-4ce0-a844-5aac39e2c34b.jpg

Related Galleries

Drive Electric Day: A dizzying array of EVs in sunny Florida

16 Photos
Incipio, Kate Spade, and Coach cases for Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: hands-on
s22-ultra-incipio-coach-cases-2.jpg

Related Galleries

Incipio, Kate Spade, and Coach cases for Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: hands-on

15 Photos