Thoughts: Should You Have "Smart" Devices In Your Household?

Thoughts: Should You Have "Smart" Devices In Your Household?

IOT - "Internet of Things": Connected devices and sensors that you can connect to your home network, or connect to your phone, to streamline your life. TVs, fridges, voice assistants, toothbrushes, watches, security systems, activity trackers, lighting systems - you name it, there's no shortage of options!

But what there often is a shortage of with these devices, is security, and as a result they're a great way for criminals to hack networks. If you're going to give devices in your house Internet access, it's prudent to do some homework first, so ask questions like:

  • How is the software it uses designed to keep criminals out?
  • How does it receive software updates?
  • Are those updates provided regularly?
  • Do they address security?
  • How are they applied?
  • How often are they applied?
  • What happens when the device is not longer supported by security updates?

And if you've addressed the above questions for a device, make sure you connect it to the "Guest WiFi" network for Internet access. What's that? It's a separate WiFi network that you can usually set up in your modem. You'll need to log into your modem (e.g. open a browser, type or in the address bar, enter the username / password, which hopefully you know, and it's a long, complex unique password).

Put any smart device in your home onto this Guest WiFi network. If it gets hacked, the criminal is on a different network to your computers (which you care about a lot, because they probably have your files, photos, passwords etc).

You can also often set up "client isolation" on these guest networks, so if a criminal does hack one device, they can't see any of the other devices on the Guest WiFi network.

If you have appliances with Internet access, and you don't know the answers to the above questions, I'd strongly suggest getting them off your network!