Many smart home features can use automation to make your house safer and more comfortable, but you have to be sure you secure the smart home automation services, too. Hacking into smart homes and the Internet of Things has slowly but surely become more common, and smart home devices have even been used to harass occupants by people like abusive exes. If you're adding smart features to your home to enhance security, here's how to ensure those devices stay safe and under your control.
Stop Using Obvious Passwords
This is the most basic of security rules, and yet people still forget to change generic passwords on new devices, or they still use easily guessed passwords like birthdates and kids' names. No one likes having a bazillion different passwords composed of random sequences, but your home security -- from smart lock admin passwords to wifi router passwords -- has to have unique passwords that can't be easily guessed. Avoid words related to hobbies that you're well-known for, and add in the occasional odd character to break up recognizable words in the passwords you do choose.
Definitely Change Your Router Name
Many smart home devices tap into your wifi to send updates to your smartphone and to get updated software from the manufacturer. Jokes abound online about changing router names to things like "FBI Surveillance Van" and "Get off My LAN." (The BBC reports that one person named their router "Hack This if You Can" and found in the morning that the name had been changed to "Challenge Accepted.") But this simple act is actually better for your security, BBC stories notwithstanding. When you change the name of your router, you hide the model name and number, which are pieces of information that hackers can use to find shortcuts for getting into those devices.
Erase Any Guest Codes No Longer in Use
Many smart devices, such as smart locks, allow you to give different people access with different codes. So, you might have a code to unlock your front door, and when you had people stay at your house via a home sharing service, they had their own codes. When those codes are no longer needed, erase them. While it's nice to think that the people who used those codes wouldn't use them to sneak back into your house, those codes do form a loose end security-wise. If you don't need them, erase them and eliminate that tiny chance of something happening.
Two-Factor Authentication Is More Important Than You Realize
Any part of the system that allows for two-factor authentication or verification should have that protection turned on. It's a simple process, and that verification can let you know immediately if something is wrong. If you don't use it, then you won't know until it's too late to stop someone trying to get into the system.
Home automation can help keep your home safe, but the system's integrity relies on you keeping people out of the system. Speak with a security company about their recommendations for protecting an automated home.