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Security & privacy

FBI warning: 5 things you must do to protect your home from hackers

Smart home gadgets have become insanely popular in recent years — and it’s easy to see why. They make our lives easier and let us interact with our tech in ways we never thought possible.

But Internet of Things (IoT) devices have a weakness that’s concerning some privacy advocates. Since each gadget has an internet connection, these devices can act as gateways for hackers to attack home networks, and most IoT devices aren’t secure enough. Tap or click to see 5 smart gadgets that can keep your home safe.

Now, the FBI has stepped in to warn consumers about the dangers of unsecured smart home devices. It’s recommending users follow five security steps to keep their homes safe from cyberattacks, or risk losing personal data when hackers come knocking. Here’s what you should do for your devices.

An urgent warning from the Feds

The FBI has posted a bulletin to its website regarding the dangers of unsecured smart home and IoT devices for consumers. According to the bureau:

…hackers can use [IoT devices] to do a virtual drive-by of your digital life. Unsecured devices can allow hackers a path into your router, giving the bad guy access to everything else on your home network that you thought was secure.

This means any IoT device on your network is a digital doorway hackers can attempt to break down. Without proper security, this can lead them directly to your personal and financial data. As we all know, this information is worth its weight in gold. Tap or click here to see why hackers want your data so badly.

Five steps to cybersecurity

As part of the bulletin, the FBI has outlined a few steps consumers can follow to keep their home networks safe from intruders:

  1. Change the device’s factory settings from the default ones. You may need to look up a user manual to find the specific instructions for your gadget. Tap or click here to look up thousands of free online user manuals.
  2. Passwords should be as long as possible and unique for IoT devices. Don’t rely on simple passwords, and make sure not to reuse any you have already used for other accounts. Tap or click here to learn how to create stronger passwords.
  3. Many connected devices are supported by mobile apps on your phone. These apps often require specific privileges to run, and the default can potentially share data you don’t want to have accessed. Open the app and privacy settings on your phone and disable the ones you don’t feel comfortable with.
  4. Keep your IoT devices on a separate network from your computers. As the FBI says, “Your laptop and refrigerator should never be on the same network.”
  5. Always keep your devices up-to-date. If automatic updates are available for software, hardware and operating systems, make sure this feature is enabled.

Following these steps can keep hackers out of your home network. As IoT devices become even more prominent in the future, these guidelines may end up being more critical than we first realized. It’s never a bad idea to get a head start.

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