There is a joke in the technology industry that if you want to 100% secure a device, never connect it to the internet. Obviously, that isn’t practical today, as so many things we use are wholly dependant on a secure connection.
But being connected exposes many of us to hidden dangers. The University of Maryland estimates that hackers try to break into systems and devices every 39 seconds. That’s over 2,200 times a day. Tap or click here to see if your IoT devices are at risk of cyberattack.
Luckily there are several things that you can do to secure your device, data and personal information. Keep reading for essential steps to secure all of your internet-connected devices.
1. Use two-factor authentication
One of the strongest forms of protection is to set up two-factor authentication (2FA) for any app, website or device that it’s available. Simply put, 2FA requires you to authenticate that it is genuinely you trying to login.
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This process often involves opening a separate app or text message to complete the sign-in process. Gmail, as an example, will send you a notification requiring action when you sign in to your email from an unrecognized device or browser. Tap or click here to find out how to set up 2FA.
2. Strong, unique passwords
In conjunction with 2FA, having solid and unique passwords will make it more difficult for hackers to enter your services, device or apps.
We know that it can be annoying when websites require you to have a 12-character password with a combination of all sorts of things. But they aren’t doing it to frustrate users. It is quite as simple as the longer the password, the harder it is to crack.
Most websites will suggest a super-strong password for you – just make sure that you remember it. Tap or click here for help creating stronger passwords.
3. Automatic updates
App and software developers roll out patches as soon as security vulnerabilities are discovered. You should install them immediately when released to prevent any data loss.
Microsoft and Apple periodically release software updates to their respective operating systems. Since humans tend to forget about those kinds of things, it’s a great idea to set up automatic downloads of any patches.
4. Review and delete recordings
It might come as a surprise to some, but if you have location services turned on for your device, the chances are good that Google knows exactly where you are. In some cases, it will even know where you have been.
All that data is recorded, as are any voice commands, web searches or information provided by your smart speaker. We recently highlighted that virtual assistants from Google and Amazon keep a record of your interactions. If you value your privacy, it’s a good idea to delete the data associated with virtual assistants. Tap or click here to listen to everything Alexa has recorded and delete it.
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5. Placement of devices that can record you
Speaking of virtual assistants and their recording properties, you must be mindful of where you place them around your house.
There are over 1,000 ways Google or Alexa can be triggered accidentally, and you don’t want them to record private or intimate conversations. It will be better for those locations to use them in “Guest” mode, as your interactions won’t be recorded and stored on a server. Tap or click here for examples of mistaken wake words.
Everything that is connected to the internet can be hacked, and that includes cameras. Never place a camera in your bathroom or bedroom – or any place you don’t want to share publicly.
Baby monitors with built-in cameras can potentially also be a security risk. Many are eager to strip the wrapping off and set it up in the nursery, but the default password of the monitor absolutely needs to be changed before use.
There is a questionable website with over 73,000 unsecured camera feeds from across the world. It’s not a website that you or your family want to be on.