These days, almost all your household devices are getting linked to the internet. This sure is convenient if you want the room temperature set as you get home. But this also means there are risks involved. Your home system might get hacked! You need to ask yourself how you can enjoy the benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT) without exposing yourself. From Alexa to other “hearing devices”, there is a lot that your home might be exposing about you. Here’s how you can stay safe.
Your Home Just Might Be Spying On You
Use the Latest Software
No matter what device you use, the native software should run the latest version. These updates are issued after rigorous testing for breaches. Hackers always keep looking for chinks in a software and when they find it, they cash it in. So you should keep your devices turned to auto-update to be safe. Alternatively, just go online and search for the latest update every now and then. If you have tech knowledge, then you might even want to check out the particulars of each update.
Use a Custom and Difficult Passwords for Your Home Devices
This one should be done for all digital devices and not just the smart ones. If you have a weak password like your birthdate or your daughter’s middle name, then you should change it. It would also be wise to have different passwords for different accounts. Although this might make things more difficult, it does provide better security.
Set Up A VPN Connection
Long gone are the days when only big corporations would turn to virtual private networks for privacy. The number of everyday Internet users who are actively subscribed to VPN service providers like ExpressVPN is steadily increasing, and for a good reason too. A VPN basically grants you an extra layer of protection whenever you go online. Connecting to a VPN server allows you to encrypt all of your Internet traffic securely. You can also hide your public IP address. This, in turn, enables you to browse the web anonymously. A VPN app is simply a must-have for any Internet user who values his or her privacy.
Use Antivirus Software
An antivirus application is the first thing you should install on your personal computer or smartphone. Even the most innocent-looking websites and apps might contain malicious viruses and malware that can infect your devices without you even knowing. The fact antivirus programs cannot be installed on many Internet-connected devices is a huge issue in itself. Many Smart TVs, for instances, are exposed to all of the Internet’s threats. A cybercriminal can easily hack into your Smart TV, for instance, and control its webcam to spy on you.
Turn Off Smart TV Voice Tracking and Data Storage
Certain users were quick to show the words that suggested that the devices automatically captured voice commands to improve performance. This was clarified later by Samsung when they said only queries and orders were recorded.
Nevertheless, some privacy specialists like Cavoukian have suggested that users should get technical about their Smart TVs. This is one sure way of knowing what your device is tracking. If you are particularly concerned about privacy, you might want to disconnect the Internet from your TV completely.
Think About Turning Off Your Smartphone Assistant
A Smartphone is the one device we all use the most. For some of us, the voice-activated assistant is a very handy thing. It can help you with checklists, vocal reminders, and a lot of other stuff. However, if you are security conscious, you might want to turn this feature off. All Smartphones offer their own version of voice assistance.
iPhone offers Siri, Amazon has Alexa, Samsung recently introduced Bixby, Windows offers Cortana, and Google has its yet unnamed assistant. All of these can be turned off by simply disabling the voice assistance feature in the setting tab. We recommend you do this in case you are feeling your Smartphone is spying on you. Though this might be a far-fetched notion, it is not completely outside the realms of possibility.
Turn Off Your Smartphone Location Tracking
Your Smartphone is very likely to be tracking all your activities. If you are a security and privacy-conscious person, then you might want to turn that off. To do this, just go to setting, privacy and location services. Once there, check the frequent locations tab and you will get a list. Now, these are all the places that you visit frequently. Yes! Both Apple and Google track this stuff.
With Google, the problem is worse as this data is stored in the cloud. This means that the government or even your partner can access it if they have your password. You can turn the location services off, but you will not get the benefit of accurate location suggestions then.
Before IoT became a phenomenon, hackers were habitually breaching security and spying on people using webcams. When this became known, many people adopted the simple yet effective method of taping their webcams. This low-tech method is still viable as it will keep hackers from seeing you even if they get access to your webcam.
Your Home Just Might Be Spying On You – Final Word
Smart devices are a great thing to have around if you can trust them. However, there are hackers and government agencies that always try to steal your data. For the security-conscious individual, turning off the devices we have mentioned above might be the best. Of course, this also means that you will lose a hefty bit of functionality. However, this should not be a problem as you can do most of the things by yourself. To be sure, turning off the devices’ ability to automatically store data storage is a definite addition to your overall safety. We all depend on our smart devices and it’s not easy to simply turn them off. However, keeping them off while you sleep is one thing you can do to make sure your devices aren’t listening to you 24/7.