Smart devices: They're definitely smart, but not always secure
For many of us, buying and using technology to make our homes smarter and interconnected is as tempting as walking through a candy store as a kid. (Sour Patch Kids and Pixy Stix anyone?)
Although not found in every household, many U.S. homes have one or two components, such as a smart security system complete with cameras, a smart thermostat or a know-it-all “voice assistant,” such as Amazon’s Alexa. The rest of our homes range from doing things the old-fashioned way (no smart devices at all) to having a home decked out in every smart technology one could imagine.
According to Statista, a company specializing in market and consumer data, North Americans are forecasted to spend $63 billion in the smart home market in 2022. And that’s nothing to sneeze at. (But if we do, millions of Americans may hear Alexa say, “Bless you.”)
Although convenient – who doesn’t want real-time glimpses of who is ringing our doorbell or to hear Google Assistant recite a recipe – smart devices come with their own set of security concerns.
Canada’s CBC News hired hackers (ethically responsible ones, of course) to hack a family’s smart home and they got in, literally. “All it took was a white van, a team of three hackers and a phishing email to remotely unlock the front door,” the report said.
This eye-opening scenario is not intended to scare people. Rather we encourage you to give your smart devices serious thought before diving in. Security measures for smart devices are similar to the steps we should take in our daily life to protect us against seedy scammers and hackers everywhere.
For example, be leery of emails or calls asking for personal information such as log-in info or passwords. And although everyone loves to use the same passwords like “abc123” for everything, doing so can make your smart devices vulnerable. (Note: It’s not a good idea to use “abc123.” Be creative and make them hard to crack.) And although it seems obvious, never use the factory-set password; change it immediately.
Many tech companies are considering (and others have already switched) to two-step authentication for the smart devices they sell. Although the extra step can feel like a pain, the two-step process is a good thing; it is a valuable step in keeping you and your family safe and your conversations private.
Without the code provided in the second security step, outsiders can’t access your device or account - even if they guessed your SweetHomeAlabama1973 password (or whatever).
For more in-depth technology advice, consult an IT professional. For more information about electrical safety, visit CassCountyElectric.com. And if your password is actually SweetHomeAlabama1973, we apologize; it was used for illustrative purposes only.