Whether it was on your wish list, or you gifted one to a family member, chances are someone in your household received a new device that connects to the Internet. While connected devices (also known as “smart devices”) are fun and make our lives easier, they also provide opportunities for hackers to access personal and private information.
Take steps to protect yourself, and your family, by following these tips:
- Secure your home Wi-Fi network
Smart devices use the Internet to send and collect data. If your home Wi-Fi connection is not secure, your data is not secure! When using Wi-Fi, the minimum security you should have is wireless encryption and password protection. Under your wireless settings, make sure your router has WPA2 encryption enabled. Then, lock your wireless network with a strong a unique password. A strong password includes uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
If you are an advanced user, create a separate network zone on your Wi-Fi network to connect your smart devices. This is called “device isolation” and functions similarly to “Guest Wi-Fi” networks.
When using your smart device on-the-go, connect only to trusted, password-protected networks, and turn off settings that automatically search for Wi-Fi networks.
- Turn off geolocation when not
Many smart devices have apps that use geolocation to provide services, such as fitness tracking or maps. If an application can see your location, a hacker could too. In your device’s settings, turn off geolocation when you are not using it.
- Before installing apps,
All apps have privacy settings that help control who can see your information, and what they see. Customize these privacy settings so personal information, such as full names and contact details, are hidden. Also, be wary of apps asking for unnecessary or excessive information. Take a good look at the permissions, and don’t just click “allow” for everything.
- Disable microphones and cameras
when not in use
Most gaming headsets, smart TVs, smartwatches, and smart speakers come with a microphone and/or camera. If not secure, your device could transmit information you don’t intend it to. Turn off your camera, and mute your microphone, when you are not using it.
- Create usernames that don’t
contain identifying information
Oversharing could put your privacy at risk. When setting up a login for your device (or for a game or app), make sure your username does not contain identifying information, such as your name, age, location, or contact information.