4 Easy Ways to Make Your Smart Home More Secure – PCMag

I’m a new homeowner and recently ventured to the local big box hardware store in search of the induction stove of my dreams. While navigating a maze of gleaming home appliances, a refrigerator with a built-in display caught my eye. Putting aside my initial confusion over the need for a screen and an Alexa connection on an appliance that only has one job, I was surprised to see that the fridge displayed a security certificate error.

(Photo: Kim Key)

The error shown in the photo happens when the common name of the site’s security certificate does not match the domain exactly. For example, if a website does not include a version of its name without the www in its certificate, you get an error when you try to access the website without it.

The fridge is probably fine, and the certificate error is likely benign. Still, it’s important to remember that there are real privacy and security risks when bringing internet-connected devices into your home. I don’t intend to scare you away from creating a smart home by listing all the theoretical ways a hacker could get into your smart home devices and wreak havoc. Most hackers are in the business of making money and collecting data from their victims, not trying to annoy them by fiddling with the thermostat.

Exchanging Your Data and Safety for a Cold Beer

If you’re surfing the web using a VPN because of privacy concerns, it’s time to disconnect your smart appliances. As Malcolm Higgins at security company NordVPN noted in a recent blog post, smart devices are data-harvesting machines(Opens in a new window). These devices monitor how and when you use them and send that information to advertisers or other businesses.

There’s also the issue of maintaining basic home security when choosing which smart devices to bring into your living space. In recent years, hackers found vulnerabilities in smart doorbell cameras, and researchers noticed smart speakers could be manipulated with lasers. Researchers also found they could compromise security systems with a smart plug. The takeaway here is that if something in your home is connected to the internet, someone can hack it.

How to Stay Safe the Smart Way

Smart home privacy concerns are serious, but you shouldn’t have to sacrifice convenience for safety. Here are four things you can do to help make your smart home more secure: 

1. Read both professional reviews and user reviews of products before buying anything. 

Have many people complained about their smart dishwasher’s screen showing DNS errors mid-cycle? If so, avoid that particular model or brand. 

It’s helpful to look into the history of the manufacturer as well. Smart devices are an emerging market, and many new, untested appliances are hitting the sales floor. Don’t give in to the hype and slick marketing! Let both professional reviews and user reviews guide you. 

Here at PCMag, we have a team of experienced professionals who test all the latest and greatest smart home tech. Have a look at our picks for the best smart home devices.

2. Change the default password. 

Many devices come with simple, easy-to-guess default passwords intended to be changed after you purchase the device. Don’t forget to change it! Make your new password long, strong, and difficult to guess, …….

Source: https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/easy-ways-to-make-your-smart-home-more-secure


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