NCSAM 2020 - Double. Double. Toil and Trouble: Something Wicked This Way Comes...to Your Home Device?
From thermostats to vacuums and door locks to home gyms, our homes are getting smarter every day. Sure, this technology makes our lives more convenient – as long as we’re as intelligent about how we protect it and our personal information. The rule: if you connect it, protect it!
First things first, let’s talk about your home network. This includes all the devices that you’ve connected to each other, as well as the internet (think computer, tablets, Amazon Echo, Nest thermostat, gaming devices, etc.). Now, how much security do you have in place to keep your network healthy and safe?
Do you really need to keep your thermostat secure? Yes! Attackers can use access to your internet-connected smart thermostat to move laterally to other devices on your network, which will likely have more important information on them.
Here are some tips to keep yourself – and your home devices – safe:
- Invest in VPN: Keep the information you share safe with a VPN or Virtual Private Networks. It’s especially a good idea to use VPN when you’re using a public wifi network, as someone can easily access the network you are using and steal your login information and personal information, such as credit card numbers.
- Use firewalls: Offering multiple levels of protection, a firewall keeps your network safe from hackers by acting as a shield, monitoring and filtering traffic while blocking users from getting unauthorized access to the private data that you store on your computer.
- Keep your firmware up-to-date: Firmware is software that’s embedded into a hardware device like your network modem or router. Firmware has regular updates in place to keep your device current with the latest capabilities and security features. You wouldn’t skip an update for your phone, would you? Make sure you don’t skip this one either! Better yet, set up automatic updates so you never miss one again.
- Reset factory passwords: Always change the default passwords on new devices to something much stronger. For example, use a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols; instead of using ArizonaStateUniversity, consider @riZ0na5tateUn1vEr$ity.
- Wipe old devices: If you need to delete everything – data, accounts, passwords – there is a built-in factory reset function that allows you to get rid of everything on your phone, which will restore it to when you first purchased your device. This is especially a good idea if you’re selling your smartphone.
- Use two-factor authentication: Yes, your usernames and passwords keep you safe, but you should use an extra layer of protection. Two-factor authentication, or 2fa, will do the trick by requiring two different types of information to prove your identity! 2fa is required for ASU accounts, but it’s especially a good idea to use 2fa with your email, banking and social media accounts.
- Disconnect from network: When you’re done using your computer for the day, one of the easiest ways to keep it and your information safe is simply to turn the computer off. By doing so, you’re disconnecting from your network, which keeps hackers from accessing your wifi network when you least expect it.
With so many different portals to the internet, managing all of your devices may seem like a chore. But follow these steps, and common sense, and you can make sure your information is as secure as possible.
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