Building a Smart Home? Here Are 7 Ways to Protect Your Privacy

April 3, 2017

9:15 am

Just like TVs, watches, cellphones, and other IoT devices, households are slowly but surely getting smarter. As the public’s interest in smart home technology gain a foothold, security and privacy concerns continue to rise. After all, you’re basically linking essential pieces of tech in your home to the internet, which isn’t exactly the safest place on earth.

Sure, living in a house that responds to “Ok Google” or controlling your appliances with an ocarina sounds charming, especially for tech enthusiasts. But one must be aware of the associated risks before investing in smart home technology. Without the necessary precautions, cybercriminals may hack into these devices and pry into the privacy of your home.

Below are some of the best ways to protect your smart home from these unwanted guests:

Invest in Cross-Platform Security

If you’re going to invest money on smart home devices, you might as well include cross-platform security in your budget. Bitdefender BOX, ESET multi-device security, F-Secure Sense – these are some of the cross-platform tools that can effectively protect your home network from viruses. The advantage of relying on these security products is that their vendors constantly roll out updates that can protect you from the latest threats.

Keep Everything Up to Date

Hackers are getting more sophisticated by the month. They can leverage the smallest vulnerabilities and security flaws found in outdated software. That said, be sure you keep everything up to date. Check for firmware and software updates whenever you purchase a new device or install a new app. It’s also a good idea to enable automatic updates for apps and security services. When it comes to your smart home appliances, be sure to regularly check the manufacturer’s website for software updates.

Set Up Parental Controls

Sometimes, the very users of your home network are the ones that endanger your privacy and security. Most children, in particular, aren’t usually well-versed in online safety. That’s why you should set up parental controls that can protect them from inappropriate content and prevent them from downloading malware by accident. You can start by checking out platforms like Childnet.com, Net Nanny, and Qustodio Family Premium. Also pay attention to the apps they install and use in their gadgets.

Stay Away from Unknown Devices

If you happen to find a USB flash drive, CD, or any other external storage device in a random location, do your family a favor and leave it there. You may think this is already conventional wisdom, but one study reveals that almost 50 percent of people are willing to plug unknown storage devices into their computers. This is a good way to directly inject viruses into your smart home. While you’re at it, make a house rule that prohibits the use of unknown storage devices even if it came from someone your family knows.

Do the “Zuckerberg”

Mark Zuckerberg is known to have odd security practices such as covering his laptop’s camera and microphone jack with a tape. Although it’s unlikely that a hijacker will specifically target your device to spy on your activities, this low-cost solution will certainly protect you from digital eavesdroppers. You should also take advantage of the mute feature on voice-activated devices like the Google Home and Amazon Echo. Just remember that you can never be too safe when your family’s safety and privacy is on the line.

Consider Biometric Locks

Biometric authentication is commonplace in science fiction, but just like smart homes, it’s slowly getting the public’s interest in real life. Fingerprint door locks, for example, have been around for quite some time. Gadgets like the new Samsung S8, which doubles as a personal computer, also continue to push biometric authentication features such as the iris scanner and facial recognition.

Do Your Research

Finally, make sure you do your research before you purchase smart home devices – be it a smart LED bulb, Bluetooth speaker, or TV set. It should be easy to look for online reviews and customer ratings, especially with websites like Amazon, Facebook, and eBay. But if the product is new, take a look instead at the manufacturer’s track record.

Read more about smart homes here on Tech.Co

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Loren Baker is the founder of Search Engine Journal and is a VP at Foundation Digital. A long time digital entrepreneur, Loren has been in digital marketing since 1998 and over the past decade he has built & executed innovative online strategies for leading companies in car insurance, retail shopping, professional sports and the movie & television industry.

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