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10 Essential Security Tips for Your Internet of Things

10 Essential Security Tips for Your Internet of Things

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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