Be Smarter Than Your Smart Devices: Consumer IoT Security Tips

Unless turned off, smart speakers are always listening.

Updated Fall of 2019

Our recent post on creating a Smart Home by using connected devices brings us to a related and critical aspect of keep your smart devices secure. Given the myriad IoT options, as a consumer, you need to be smarter than your smart devices. There are numerous helpful resources and tips available on the topic of security. Here are our top four:

Establish A Secure Home Network.

Security starts at the base level, aka your Internet connection. Make sure your smart devices are connected to an equally smart network. Start with password encryption, the most important part of network security. You should use strong passwords, and change them often.

Keep Your Device Update

When your Smart TV asks if you want to update an app or keep watching, update the app. This goes for all your devices. Updates are not just about having the newest features. They are how the developer pushes new security features. Furthermore, make sure your device distributor has your up-to-date contact information. This is not an issue when purchasing directly (as the seller will likely require at least an email address from you) but when purchasing from a third party vendor, it is very important to either register with the warranty card or go to the manufacturer’s or developer’s website and register the product or app purchased.

Stay Up to Date on Security Recommendations

The Online Trust Alliance (OTA) recommends that consumers routinely assess their security and privacy settings on all IoT devices, the same way you would change the batteries in a smoke detector.  According to the OTA, many consumers cite safety as a top reason for initially purchasing home automation and other smart devices. However, OTA reports that research indicates that security of the devices and privacy concerns are barriers to IoT adoption. To that end, OTA offers a detailed IoT Security Checklist for Consumers. With tips on privacy and security, this is a must-read, the checklist also provides a website to visit for updates to the recommendations.

Two Factor Authentication 

This best practice works across the board. If any website, device, or software provides two-factor-authentication use it.  Two-factor-authentication is a layered security approach that requires people signing on to a device, app, or account to go beyond just entering a password. Often, two-factor-authentication involves a confirmation code sent over email or text message. It is the easiest way to protect yourself from cybercriminals.

IoT security is a moving target due to the phenomenal growth of the industry itself.  The only way to ensure a safe and open Internet is for everyone to provide security to the extent that they can. With emerging guidelines from the FTC and the FCC, two out of the three entities will have standards to meet.  Even with these standards, consumers STILL have to do their part.