Geek’s Blog

Smart home safety tips | All you NEED to know!

Hi there, Geeks! Have you ever considered installing smart home devices in your house? They can make life that much easier, but there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind to keep yourself safe! Let’s take a closer look. Like any new technology, Kiwis have been quick to adopt smart devices in their homes. However, there are some questions about how we can benefit from these devices without putting our security at risk.

What are smart home devices?

Smart devices are electronic devices that are in some way connected to other devices or networks. Generally, they often also have interactive or autonomous functions as well. Some of the most common smart devices in Kiwi homes include:

  • Smartphones
  • Voice-controlled speakers such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa
  • Smart doorbells
  • Smartwatches
  • Tablets and laptops
  • Robot vacuums
  • Smart lightbulbs
  • Smart thermostats

The earlier study showed that while Kiwis had an average of 29 smart devices per home, 80% of Kiwis said they only had one to five smart devices in the home. This suggests that we tend to underestimate which devices are classified as ‘smart’ and how many of them we have.

How might smart home devices compromise our security?

As much as smart devices can make life easier, they can also add new security weaknesses. This is because many of these devices connect to the internet, record personal information, and access personal data such as shopping accounts and even bank accounts.

For example, a smart speaker with voice activation is essentially always listening to what you say. A home security camera is watching what you do, a wearable fitness device knows where you are, and a smart fridge can order things online.

Should any of these devices become hacked, you can potentially lose sensitive personal information. Hackers could also ‘hijack’ these devices and not give back control until a ransom is paid. However, that doesn’t mean you have to live without smart devices. It just means you have to be smart about living with them.

How can we be smart about our smart devices?

  1. The first step is to change the passwords on your smart devices as soon as you get them. Many devices will come with a pre-set password upon arrival, just like your Internet modem, and it’s important to change this to a stronger, private password immediately.
  2. Secondly, you should put your smart devices on a separate Wifi network from the one you use daily. Your router provides a ‘guest’ network option, so use this for your smart device network, and keep your laptop and mobile on the main network. This ensures there is no unwanted communication or weaknesses between devices.
  3. Much like keeping your laptop secure, you must also keep the software up to date. New software updates help to fix any potential weaknesses that hackers might exploit, so update each device as soon as there is an update available.
  4. Ensuring your network is secure is imperative to keeping your smart devices as safe online as possible. Make sure your Wi-Fi password is long and strong, and check your router regularly to make sure only your devices are connected to your network.
  5. You can also do a little research before making any smart device purchases. If an item has a common security bug or well-known issue, it may be best to look for a different brand.

Get help with Smart Home set-up

 Geeks on Wheels offers a handy Smart Home set-up service.

We can supply devices we know to be highly secure and reliable, set up your Smart Home hub, recommend devices that would suit your lifestyle, train you on how to use all your smart devices, and ensure all steps are taken to make them as secure as possible.

Book a Geek online or give us a call on 0800 424 335 to find out more.