Many of us are fascinated by smart devices, installing the latest technological gadgets that give us remote control of the lighting, heating and security alarms in the home. You don’t need to be tech-savvy when it comes to home technology, so it is important to be aware of the hidden dangers when it comes to family security.
After having his bike stolen from the garden shed, a pensioner in Leeds installed seven security cameras around his home. However, he and his wife were shocked when the BBC discovered that, since 2015, the system had been viewed remotely by strangers nearly 5,000 times. The views had totalled 366 hours and took place in 70 different countries, including one viewer in France who watched them in their home for over nine hours – and they had no idea.
What smart technology do you use in your home? Do you use your smartphone to monitor your doorbell, sleeping children or pets? Use your smart TV or audio system for interactive entertainment? Have a voice-controlled digital assistant?
Computers, smartphones and tablets – in fact, any device that is connected to WiFi, is transmitting data which could be of interest to criminals. Burglar alarms, security cameras, door locks and security lighting can all be disabled. Smartphone monitors can be hacked to let others see into your home.
Using a secure system of passwords and keeping software up to date is one step towards keeping your smart home safe, but there are a few other things you might consider.
- Always replace the factory re-set passwords with a secure one that you have created yourself. It is common for new devices to have an easy to guess administrator password, so that you can easily set up your new system (if the numbers 1234, 0000 or 0852, look familiar – change them immediately!).
- Use a different password for every device connected, and don’t use the same password that you use to connect to your online accounts.
- Check that your home WiFi network is secure.
- Install the latest updates on all computers and mobile devices and apps, and protect these devices with a PIN or passcode. You might check websites to see if an update is available for apps, which can sometimes be released slowly, and install updates promptly.
- If you don’t intend to remote-manage your devices, disable them.
- Buy better-known, reputable brands that have stronger product security.
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