“Smart” tech is connecting us to one another, and to our surroundings, now more than ever. Devices that didn’t exist a few years ago are now indispensable, reminding us of important appointments, storing our personal data, and helping us efficiently control our households. By the year 2020, experts estimate that 20 billion smart devices will be in use. That’s 2.5 devices per each person on Earth!
With the comfort and convenience that smart devices bring, there also come security concerns. Since our smart devices are almost always connected via Bluetooth or the internet, they’re particularly vulnerable to cyber-attacks if they aren’t properly protected. So how can you best defend your devices? Here are three simple ways you can protect the smart devices you own:
1. Protect Your Wi-Fi Network
The most important thing you need to do is make sure your home WiFi network is secured with WPA2 encryption. If you aren’t sure which type of encryption you have, contact your Internet service provider (ISP). Because WPA2 scrambles the encryption and ensures the data isn’t compromised during transfer, it makes it much harder for would-be hackers to decipher the information being sent between your devices or to attack any vulnerabilities.
2. Update Your Smart Devices
Just as with your smartphone or computer, you should receive patches or firmware updates from other device manufacturers. These updates may deliver a multitude of revisions to your device such as adding new features, removing outdated features, updating drivers, delivering bug fixes and, most importantly, patching security holes that have been recently discovered. For this reason, it’s very important to keep your devices up to date.
3. Turn Off Your Smart Devices When Not in Use
Even though it may be more convenient for you to have your thermostat constantly connected to the internet, keep in mind that the longer your devices are connected, the more likely they are to become compromised. This applies to Bluetooth-enabled devices as well. Hackers may exploit the technology to access private information and spread malicious software.
The Bottom Line
Smart device sales don’t seem to be slowing down. For example, as many as 43 million Americans already own a smart speaker, and approximately half of us plan to purchase another. As with any new tech trends, there are risks. But as long as you encrypt your WiFi connection, update your devices, and pull the plug when you’re not online, you can rest assured you’re taking smart steps toward keeping your tech safe and secure.