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Millions of smart devices are vulnerable to hackers! 6 ways to protect yourself

When you think about the risks of hacking, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it that your computer could be taken over by some unnamed cybercriminals?

Actually, anything connected to a network is also at risk of being hacked, including the fitness tracker on your wrist and your smart home devices. Tap or click here to find out which internet-of-things devices are at high risk of cyberattacks.

Cybersecurity researchers have long warned that many smart devices are vulnerable. Now a new report says it’s actually millions of gadgets that could potentially be hacked, many of which you might have around your house.

The smart devices that are vulnerable to hacking

The U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency just issued a bulletin regarding a new report by cybersecurity firm Forescout, In that report, researchers identified millions of smart devices with software vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers. And all it takes is one compromised device to impact everything on your home network.

Even worse? The flawed devices were released by about 150 different manufacturers, although none of the companies were named in the report. The products range from things like Wi-Fi-connected smart plugs to printers and routers. Some health-related appliances and industrial control system components are also at risk.

Many of those devices are geared toward business needs, but when it comes to the most common consumer tech, remote-controlled temperature sensors and cameras are at high risk of being compromised.

If your home network gets compromised, it could lead to big trouble for your household. We’ve already seen scenarios in which home security cameras have been hacked into and controlled by cybercriminals.

If your smart plugs or other devices are hacked into, you could be dealing with all sorts of scenarios: personal information or identity theft, ransomware, malware, botnets or other negative ramifications. The worst case scenario would be that the hackers get a hold of public control systems that supply water, power and other critical services to the public.

Luckily, there is no evidence at the moment that the flaws in the software have led to any real issues yet. Still, the issue is vast enough that it warranted a warning from the CISA about making sure to secure any smart gadgets in your home.

How to secure your smart devices

Given the potential vulnerabilities, you need to secure your smart devices against hackers. But how do you do that?

1. Stay on top of updates and patches for your device

Start by staying on top of any updates that are released for your device, and not just for your computer and smartphone. Check your modem and router, then other sensitive tech like security cameras and printers.

Patches for flaws roll out as part of these updates, and you shouldn’t assume all of your gadgets will receive them automatically. Check for software and firmware on a weekly basis. If a new update rolls out, don’t wait.

If you have older tech that no longer receives regular updates, it would be wise to consider upgrading to a modern version.

2. Check the router settings

You should also make some changes to your router settings to help secure your devices. You can learn more about securing your router and optimizing the settings by tapping or clicking here.

3. Check on the devices connected to your Wi-Fi

Do regular checks to see which devices are connected to your Wi-Fi. If you monitor the Wi-Fi for unknown devices, you’ll be preemptively protecting your network from intruders. Tap or click here to see how to check all the devices on your Wi-Fi network.

Related: 5 steps to make sure hackers cannot access your home network and files

4. Consider a separate Wi-Fi network for smart devices

Also consider setting up a separate network for just your smart devices. This will separate your smart devices from other devices on your network, like your computer or smartphone. That way if a device is compromised, a hacker won’t have access to everything else.

5. Use difficult passwords

This is a common piece of advice, but it’s an important one to note. You should be using difficult passwords that aren’t easy to guess for your tech and online accounts, and always make sure that you’re using a unique password for each. This will lessen the chances that you’ll be hacked on multiple devices if one of the passwords is compromised. Tap or click here to create stronger passwords.

6. Use 2FA for your smart home devices

Don’t rely on passwords alone, and use two-factor authentication on any device or account with that option. Tap or click here for more about using 2FA as another layer of protection.

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