A smart home adds a new level of convenience to your life. Your smart devices can give you visibility and control over home products including your garage door, lights, thermostat and front door locks. And, these conveniences are only becoming more common. Swedish research company Berg Insight projects that 63 million U.S. households will qualify as “smart” by 2022. (There are 130 million total households in the U.S. today.)
As new smart home devices continue to add convenience to daily life, you want to make sure your home is safeguarded against potential vulnerabilities while using the technology you love.
Below are eight actions you can take to enjoy the convenience of your smart home devices while helping to keep your smart home secure.
Get a reputable router
Many consumers rely on routers offered to them by an internet provider. Under this arrangement, you are essentially renting your equipment — paying a monthly fee for the convenience of getting all of your internet equipment from one company. To avoid paying this fee, you can simply buy your own router. In addition to being more cost effective, it may be more secure. For example, it may be worthwhile to purchase a low-end commercial router at around $200. Some consumer-grade routers have ease-of-use features that allow users to bypass the Wi-Fi password. While this may be convenient, it may also leave you more open to a security breach. Commercial-grade routers help users maximize security more effectively by omitting these features and requiring users to enter a password — no matter the circumstances.
Create a Wi-Fi username that isn’t recognizable
Don’t use the Wi-Fi name that comes standard on your router. Change the name to something that is unique and doesn’t identify you. Examples of bad names include personal identifiers such as birthdays, surnames or addresses. You don’t want potential criminals to have personally identifiable data about you or your family. If your name is Smith and you live in Apartment 9D, don’t use any of that information in your Wi-Fi name.
Use a strong Wi-Fi password (and make it unique)
You hear it all the time, but it’s worth repeating: don’t use a password that is easy to hack. Examples include “12345” or “password.” It’s best to also not reuse passwords that you use elsewhere, such as for email, social sites or banking accounts. Create passwords that are non-identifiable and use a variety of letters, numbers and special characters.
Try multi-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication has become common because it gives you an extra layer of control and is another barrier to prevent bad guys from breaking through. An example of two-factor authentication is when you enter a password to log into a service, instead of being immediately granted access, you will receive a text message with a passcode. You must enter that passcode before proceeding. This makes your phone a gatekeeper, allowing only you to connect to your services or sites. Many software services offer two-factor authentication. Some allow you to take even more steps to protect your accounts.
Keep your software updated
You are probably accustomed to smartphone prompts asking you to update your phone’s software. This has a purpose; in addition to enabling new features, these updates often include security patches to prevent hackers from taking advantage of vulnerabilities. It’s important to be proactive in updating this software, not just on your smartphone, but with all of your connected devices. Most smart devices found in your home have software that requires periodic updates. Make sure to check your settings to ensure your software is up to date and programmed to update your devices automatically.
Create a guest network for visitors
When friends, family or guests come over to your house, you may feel a bit uneasy handing them your Wi-Fi password. Here’s a trick to alleviate that anxiety: you can configure two different Wi-Fi networks on your router. This way, you can connect your family and all of your smart devices to your primary network and have a separate guest network available for visitors to your home. With this setup there is no crossover. As a result, overzealous, invasive or prying guests (let’s hope you don’t have them to begin with) will never have access to your primary network.
Research smart home brands before you buy
With so many gadgets to choose from when outfitting your smart home, the search for the right device can feel overwhelming. While lesser known brands may present less expensive options, security experts agree that it is always best to pick smart home devices from reputable companies that you know and trust. Established brands have the infrastructure to support better security measures when designing their products and to more reliably release software patches and fixes when they are needed. Regardless of what smart home device you decide is best for your home, it is always important to read reviews and do research before making a purchase.
Consider having your products installed professionally
Professionals often know best, and that is certainly the case with technical products. So, it is always advisable to have a professional come and install your equipment, whether it is a cable provider or smart home appliance installer. When you purchase a smart garage door opener, for example, one of our certified LiftMaster® Dealers can perform the product installation for you. As part of the installation, the Dealer can help you securely set up the myQ® App and software so you can monitor and control your garage from anywhere.