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It’s the final week of Cyber Security Awareness Month (CSAM)! This month we’ve explored how to keep your phones, computers, and network devices secure. This week, we’ll explore how you can protect your smart devices.

What are smart devices?

A smart device is a context-aware electronic device capable of performing autonomous computing and connecting to other devices wire or wirelessly for data exchange. Smart devices have three main features: context-awareness, autonomous computing, and connectivity. These devices are at the centre of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Smart devices include products for your home security, entertainment, comfort, and more. Companies like Google, Amazon, and Ring have made it possible to have a virtual assistant in your home answer your spur-of-the-moment questions, control your light switch from your phone, and see who is at your door!

These devices connect to the internet where the user can control and monitor them remotely, or work automatically through different software, cameras, and sensors.

What are the risks of unsecured smart devices?

Smart devices do a great job of making our lives more convenient, but just like other internet-connected devices, they can give potential cybercriminals access to our information. Some common risks of owning a smart device can include hacking and privacy issues.

Hacking is when someone gains unauthorized access to your device(s). Without the option to create or choose your own strong passphrase for a smart device, it could leave you vulnerable to hacking.

Part of the convenience of smart devices is that we have access to personal data and insights (such as fitness habits) that we would otherwise not have if it weren’t for our devices. In some cases, this data that your smart device makes available to you is also used by the manufacturer and can be sold to third parties. Be sure to review the privacy policy or app data associated with the device you are using.

How do you protect your smart devices?

Now that you know some of the risks associated with smart devices, it’s important to learn how you can protect your privacy and be cyber secure. The following tips are some ways that you can protect your smart devices:

Change the default settings

Rename your smart devices and create complex passphrases for your Wi-Fi network. Follow best practices for securing your Wi-Fi networks such as avoiding information that can be easily guessed such as names, addresses, and phone numbers.

Update your devices

Keep your devices and operating systems updated by frequently updating the software and applications. When the option is available, be sure to turn on automatic updates so that you know your software is always up to date.

Use a separate network

You can limit the damage of a potential cyberattack by creating a guest network for your smart devices. Keeping your smart devices on a separate network will keep your data associated with the devices separate from your main network.

To create a separate network, turn on the guest network in your settings, and give the new network a unique name and password. Then save your settings and connect your devices to the new network.

Use only what you need

When not in use, smart device features such as Bluetooth, location services, cameras, and microphones should be turned off. When your devices are not in use, be sure that you have them in lock mode. For devices that are only used occasionally, disconnect it from the internet when not in use.

Practice Cybersafety 24/7

As we wrap up CSAM, it’s important to note that cybersecurity should be practiced year-round! Always be cautious when it comes to sharing your data and remember to follow best practices to stay cyber safe.

For more cybersecurity tips, be sure to tune into the AlphaKOR Academy!