6 Ways to Protect Yourself from Hackers
“Alexa, play the song ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ by Rick Astley’.”
“Alexa, change the Nest thermostat to 68 degrees.”
“Alexa, show me footage of Nest Cam on Echo Show.”
Do you have an Alexa, a Ring doorbell, a Nest thermostat or smart camera? These connected devices have transformed our homes into smart homes, automating everyday tasks. They are fantastic especially when chained together. With a single voice command, you can control features on your smart thermostat and camera. Life is good!
In 2018, US smart speaker users passed 50 million, tripling the market growth. According to Juniper Research, the IoT (internet of things) sector is expected to grow 30%. By 2020, there will be 20.4 billion devices.
The more connected devices, the more the vulnerabilities. The number of threats is only getting worse. Hacker threats have grown 3x in 2018 and 10x the prior year. Did you know that it’s possible to hack your voice activated speaker? Someone can reboot it remotely and intrude into your home network. Or possibly send personal information to strangers. Or your internet connected camera remotely controlled to spy on your loved ones.
6 Simple Ways to Protect Yourself from Hackers.
Here’s 6 ways to keep yourself less vulnerable from hacker attacks:
1. Use strong passwords. Your factory supplied default password is part on an online catalog of passwords. Replace it with a strong password. Here are some simple tips:
Do not use number combinations of birthdays, your address nor phone number. This information is easily searchable.
Choose a strong password by intentionally misspelling words. For example, use “ofkors” for “of course”. Better yet, use a series of words and memory technique to help you remember your password. For example, if you like to play soccer, rather than the password “PlaySoccer” use “ILtPs”. The latter is an acronym for “I love to play soccer”, with a combination of upper and lower-case letters.
Use a password manager: It's smart to create different passwords for different accounts. But how in the world, are you going to remember all those passwords! You do not have to. Just remember a single, super-strong master password that unlocks a password manager. The best ones are 1Password, LastPass, and Dashlane.
2. Turn on two-factor authentication where you can. Hackers will need both your password and access to a “second factor”, like your phone, to break in. Protect your social media, mail and especially bank accounts. Use this two-step authentication process. Do a Google search for “two-factor authentication” and the website or app’s name. This will direct you to a how-to page for setting up.
Once you are set up, there are 3 possible implementations of two-factor authentication:
Text messages: When you put in your password, a text message will be sent to your phone number. Use the code you will receive to additionally authenticate yourself.
Apps: The biggest online players like Google, Apple and Amazon provide extra security. When you try to sign onto Google in a new computer, you’ll get a message on your phone.
Code generators: generate a code every 60 seconds. Old fashion USB dongles still exist. Convenient digital versions like YubiKey and Semantec VIP Access are becoming more popular.
3. Choose a secure router name: Avoid anything too obvious, such as your family name or home address. Choose a random and obscure name to prevent attackers targeting you. It also makes it harder to guess passwords if the router name gives no hints about who the owner may be.
4. Check your security settings and update device software as needed. Find a balance between convenience and possibly increasing security risks. Re-evaluate your settings when you install a new software version. Make sure they are still appropriate.
Update device software. Leverage fixes to vulnerabilities that would protect you. You can download software updates from vendor websites. Download only from trusted vendor sites. Do not trust a link in an email message. Attackers have used links to websites hosting malicious files disguised as legitimate updates.
5. Connect carefully. A device connected to the internet is also connected to millions of other computers. This allows attackers to access your device and home network. Ask yourself: “is continuous internet connectivity needed?”
6. Get a 24/7 hacker monitoring and alert system. For added peace of mind, invest in one. Make sure it is simple to set-up and use, completely wireless for less hassle and affordable.
We all love the conveniences our connected devices provide. We also want the peace of mind that they remain secure. Our smart homes should also be safe homes. As we free ourselves from worry, we free up more time to spend on things that we truly enjoy – like friends and family.
And isn’t that what life is about!