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May 30, 2019

How to Make Your Smart Home Privacy-Friendly

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Smart home devices are great. They can control our lights and thermostats, they can read you a recipe while you make dinner, they can play music, and so much more. Whether you have a home assistant, smart TV, security camera, smart thermostat, or all of the above and more, there’s no denying that these gadgets are great at making life more convenient. But, because they connect to the internet, they also pose a small risk to your privacy. Thankfully, you can make your smart home devices as privacy-friendly as possible with these tips:

  • Give your router a name
  • Set up a guest network
  • Don’t use default usernames or passwords
  • Disable unnecessary features
  • Update your software
  • Enable two-factor authentication
  • Read app policies
  • Disable your cameras and microphones
  • Don’t use your ID in your usernames

Give Your Router a Name

When you first set up a router, it will come with a default name given to it by the manufacturer. While it may seem harmless to leave this name set, don’t. In some cases, the default name identifies the make and model of your router which makes it easier for hackers to take over your devices. Instead, rename your router with something unusual that doesn’t identify who you are or where you live.

Set Up a Guest Network

The fewer people who have access to the network that controls your smart devices, the better. Instead of giving your main wifi password to your friends and family, set up a guest network for them to use. They still get their wifi, and you still maintain your safety and privacy.

Don’t Use Default Usernames or Passwords

Chances are, the default username and password that come with your device are used on other devices manufactured by the same company. That means those credentials are more likely to leak and be hacked. You can minimize that risk by never using default usernames and passwords. Read our tips for creating a strong password here.

Disable Unnecessary Features

More often than not, manufacturers load smart devices with more bells and whistles than any one person needs. The more features that are enabled, the more permissions and access your device requires, and the greater the risk for a privacy breach. The simple way to avoid this is to disable any features you don’t need to use.

Update Your Software

When a new software update comes out for your devices, install them as soon as possible. Many new updates come with beefed up security measures to correct and protect against breaches that occur in outdated software.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication is a great way to keep hackers out of your devices. When logging in to a device, two-factor authentication requires both your password and a one-time code sent to you, often through a text. While a hacker might be able to crack your password, they can’t access your accounts without also having access to your cell phone (or wherever you receive your authentication code). Not all devices offer this security feature but you should enable it on all that do.

Read App Policies

Many companies want your data. So, to get it, they add clauses in to their terms of service and privacy policies that allow them to access your data. They expect most users to blindly agree in order to use their service. Instead, take the time to read and understand their policies to keep your information safe.

Disable Your Cameras and Microphones

We’ve all heard the horror stories of smart devices recording private conversations and then sending that conversation elsewhere. While that doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing will happen to you if you have a smart device, you can still protect yourself by turning off cameras and mics. You can also put a piece of tape over your cameras and plug in a fake audio jack for further protection.

Don’t Use Your ID in Your Usernames

Using too much information in your usernames might pose a risk to your privacy. When creating a username, don’t use your real name (in whole or in part), avoid numbers that identify your age, and don’t put your location or contact information into your username.

Smart devices can be both convenient and privacy-friendly. Using them to browse the web can be too, with HotBot VPN.

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