This year, there will be 6.4 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices in use — a 30 percent jump from 2015. But all of this advanced and integrated technology leaves room for potential security threats like hackers and malware. Whether you use one smart device or dozens, boost the safety of your Internet of Things with these 10 essential security tips.

1. Know What’s Connected

Before you can secure your devices, you have to know what is vulnerable to an attack. The average home has five connected devices, excluding computers, tablets, and smartphones. Note your home’s connected devices — including game consoles, media players, and anything with a microphone or camera — and verify what information each has access to.

2. Password Protect All Devices and Accounts

Every smart device you manage through an Internet-based account should be protected with a strong username and password that includes a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts — otherwise, if a hacker manages to get in, they’ll have wider access to your devices.

3. Avoid Using Insecure Internet Connections

When you check on your smart devices remotely from your smartphone or tablet, don’t use any Wi-Fi that isn’t password protected. Insecure connections can make your device vulnerable to hacking. To increase your personal network security, create strong passwords for your own router and Wi-Fi connections, and update them regularly.

4. Keep Your Smartphone Secure

If you lost or misplaced your smartphone, a hacker could potentially access your personal information and smart devices. Mobile security programs can back up your data to an online account, track your device’s location, and remotely lock and wipe your entire phone. A password or PIN on the device itself can also provide another layer of defense.

5. Create a Separate Network for Your Devices

Many routers allow you to set up multiple networks. Consult your router’s manual to create at least one separate network for your IoT devices. The more you segment your networks, the harder it is for hackers to access all of your devices and information.

6. Install a Firewall

A firewall helps prevent hackers, viruses, and worms from reaching your connected devices over the Internet by denying unauthorized traffic. Some computer systems offer a default firewall, which is sufficient for many users. For an added layer of protection, install a firewall that offers more security functions that meet your needs, or configure a hardware firewall to offer wider network defense.

7. Immediately Update Security Patches

Smart devices regularly release system updates that address user issues and security flaws. Installing updates as they become available helps you stay more protected. Periodically check each device manufacturer’s website for updates or security announcements. Some devices even have a setting that will allow automatic update installation.

8. Disconnect Devices When Not in Use

Turn off any smart devices when you aren’t using them, particularly those with microphones and video cameras. While some connected devices, such as smart thermostats, require a constant Internet connection, other devices — including smart TVs, coffee makers, and video cameras — do not. Prevent a hacker from connecting to your video or audio streams by disconnecting when you can.

9. Adjust Default Device Settings

Most smart devices and their ancillary apps feature adjustable privacy settings. Depending on your desired level of security, you can enable or disable certain connectivity features. If you are suspicious of any functions, like voice control or motion detection, turn them off. You can always switch them back on if you need those features at a later date.

10. Set Rules for Your Children

If your children will be using any connected smart devices, explain the risks of the Internet and teach them the importance of never sharing personal information online or with a stranger. Supervise their usage of any devices with microphones or cameras, including baby monitors. For even more security, disable all connectivity while your child is using the device.

The Internet of Things allows you to improve your home and simplify your living. As you’re setting up all of your favorite features, dedicate time to increase the security of your devices as well. By taking precautions early, you can help prevent malicious attacks when it really matters.

Featured photo credit: Secure Cloud – Data Security – Cyber Security via flickr.com

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