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Internet of Things (IoT) devices can really make life easier – and they’re becoming increasingly common. Sure, it’s nice to put things on your shopping list or play music with a voice-activated smart home device, and it’s convenient to adjust your thermostat from your smartphone or enjoy the varied and sophisticated smart lighting options available to today’s homeowners.

But all of these connected devices can present a big risk to your household cybersecurity, because they’re often inherently insecure. That means hackers can easily take control of them, or use them to access your wireless network and your other devices – the ones that contain your personal information. Use these tips to secure your IoT devices and protect yourself from hackers.

Secure Your Router

The first and most important step to securing your IoT devices is to secure your wireless gateway or router. Think of your router as your network’s front door. If you didn’t have a lock on your front door, thieves could walk right in. That doesn’t mean they can’t still break in through a window or the back door if your front door was locked. It just means that leaving it unsecured makes it easier for thieves to get it, but locking it up can deter those who are looking for that open front door.

Login to your router’s administrative dashboard and change your router’s name and login password. If you’ve never done this and you’re not sure what your login credentials are, you can look them up online by googling your router’s make and model and the words “login credentials” or “default password username.” The ease of finding these default credentials online is argument enough for changing them.

Assign a Unique Password to Each Device

Each IoT device on your network likely comes with its own device, for which you need a password. Resist the temptation to use the same password for every device. If a hacker gets the password for one device, they can take control of all of them. Instead, assign a unique password for each device, and use a password manager to keep them all straight. The best internet security software options will include password managers to help you generate unique passwords and keep them handy.

Use Multi-Factor Authentication

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Multi-factor authentication (MFA) requires you to provide multiple forms of identification to prove your identity when you log into an online account. You should use multi-factor authentication for all your accounts. It will make it harder for hackers to get in, because they’ll need more than just your password – they’ll need your biometrics or one of your devices to pass secondary verification. MFA can also clue you in when someone is trying to hack into your account, because it’ll send you an authentication notification.

Install Software and Firmware Updates as They Come Out

You shouldn’t procrastinate installing software and firmware updates on your IoT devices. These updates enhance performance, and they can also include fixes for security issues that manufacturers have found on the devices. IoT devices may not update automatically, but may prompt you when updates are available. However, you should do a manual check for updates every couple of months.

Keep Your IoT Devices on Their Own Network

Segregating your IoT devices onto a secondary guest network can protect your other devices from hackers. Your smartphones, laptops, and tablets can contain a lot of personal information about you, as well as providing access to social media accounts, bank accounts, email accounts, and more. IoT devices can create a weak spot on your network, giving hackers a back door to get in, and once they’re in, they can access your smartphone and other devices. If IoT devices are on another network, though, hackers can break into all of them and they still won’t be able to get at your laptop or your phone.

Turn Off Features You Aren’t Using

Make sure you understand the features your IoT devices have, and how to disable ones that you aren’t using or don’t want to use. For example, your smart TV might be listening to your conversations in order to collect data for advertising purposes, but if you turn off the microphone, it won’t be able to listen anymore – and hackers won’t be able to listen through it.

Use a Firewall

A firewall can keep questionable traffic off your network, including malware and viruses. It’s a good choice to add an extra layer of protection for all of your devices. A good firewall can keep hackers from getting into your network to connect to your IoT devices.

If you use IoT devices, you need to take home wireless security seriously. Don’t let hackers take advantage of your smart devices. Prioritize IoT device security as much as you would security for your phone or laptop.

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