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Device Updates and Passwords are a Good Place to Start
by Ken May

 I recently wrote a blog about how people who own high-end homes are buying a variety of appliances and devices such as refrigerators, washing machines, thermostats, security systems, security cameras, and nanny-cams which are connected to the internet and how cool it is to be able to operate these devices remotely. These high-tech household gadgets are being called the Internet of Things (loT). 

 I also talked about how hackers are breaching these devices to virtually get into your home, your financial records, your personal conversations, and even be able to watch you through the cameras imbedded in some of the devices. 

 Here are ten tips to keep your home safer from these attacks:

1. Make sure that your appliances, phones, and other electronics have the latest updates and security patches. Many of these patches are created to specifically combat the latest vulnerabilities.

2. Consider using one computer just for financial transactions and online banking and a different one for social media, e-mail, and other online activities which are much more vulnerable to a cyber-attack.

3. If you’re using Wi-Fi at home, don’t broadcast the network name and be sure to change any default settings, names, or passwords when you are installing new smart devices. ABC123 is not a proper password!

4.  Set up a two-factor authentication when working on your finances online. Many institutions offer you the use of a password which is followed up with them sending you a code through your mobile device or e-mail. Make sure that any passwords you create are complex including a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Did you know that it takes a hacker less than 5 seconds to access your account if your password is simply a word out of the dictionary?

5. This one is simple. Make sure your smartphone is password protected. If your offers fingerprint access, this is even better.

6. Purchase apps only from recognized app stores such as Google. A third party vendor may not have the same level of testing for flaws.

7. When you are not using the Bluetooth feature on a device, turn it off to prevent ambient listening or access by unauthorized people. Did you know that baby monitors can be hacked through the Bluetooth function and the hacker can then listen in?

8.  When buying loT devices, only buy those that are unopened and unreturned from retailors. Some people will buy devices, infect them with malicious code, and then return them to the store.

9. When you buy a new device and are disposing an old one, wipe any data from the old device and reset it back to the factory default settings to make sure any personal information is removed and inaccessible. Of course, if it’s a Samsung, it may blow up on its own. 

10. Finally, check your insurance policy or call your agent because your homeowners or identity theft policies may help to provide access to forensic and other experts who can help you in the aftermath. And always contact your IT guy! If you don’t have one, I can pass along some names. 

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