What is at risk in your house?

The number of devices connected to the internet continues to grow: TVs, cars, fridges, washing machines, salt shakers! It seems as if there is no end to the number of smart devices that can be purchased.

The industry refers to these items as ‘IoT’ (the Internet of Things), but unlike most of your devices connected to the internet (your computer, smartphone, or tablet), you have very little say over the software that is running and you may not even think about the security issues.

This is something that you do need to consider, though. Hackers have already demonstrated that they can remotely control a car:

There have also been numerous instances where Smart TVs have been ‘bricked’ by ransomware. This practice stops the TV from working, displaying a screen requesting payment to proceed.

Here are our security tips for your IoT devices.

Know what is connected
The first step you need to take is understanding how many devices you need to secure. Excluding the items that you already have well-protected, for example your tablet, computer and smartphone, these may include TVs, game consoles and media players. Once you have got a complete list of the items, you should verify what information each device has access to, particularly if that device has a camera or a microphone.

Password protect all devices and accounts
Every smart device should be protected with a strong username and password that includes a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. Resist the temptation to use the same password for multiple accounts, otherwise if a hacker does manage to gain access they will have access to a wider range of your devices.

Create a separate network for your devices
Most routers allow you to set up multiple networks. Find the manual for your router and follow the instructions to set up a separate network exclusively for your IoT devices. The more you splinter your networks, the tougher it is for hackers to access numerous devices.

Install a firewall
A firewall is an added layer of security to protect your network or system from unauthorised access. This will help prevent hackers or viruses reaching your connected devices over the internet. Some computer systems offer a default firewall, which may be sufficient for your needs.

Disconnect devices when not in use
There is no reason that your smart TV, coffee machine or video camera needs a constant connection to the internet. If you are not using that function at a particular time, make sure that it is switched off. This is key to protecting your device as it means if anything does go wrong you will at least be in a position to notice straight away.

Install updates immediately
Manufacturers will regularly release security updates when they notice holes or weaknesses in their system and it is important to install any updates in a timely fashion. It pays to check the manufacturer’s website for updates or security announcements from time to time, but most devices will have a setting that allows automatic update installation.

Related articles:
Samsung TVs are listening in
Can the CIA hack your smartphone?
Stay safe when using email


Ben Hocking
Ben Hocking
Ben Hocking is a skilled writer and editor with interests and expertise in politics, government, Centrelink, finance, health, retirement income, superannuation, Wordle and sports.
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