The number of electrical and electronic items in your home that can be monitored and controlled via your Wi-Fi is growing all the time. These range from security systems and cameras and dimmable lightbulbs to your children’s smart toys. It is even possible to buy a refrigerator which tells you when you need to stock up on food. These products are normally linked to their own app on your smartphone or tablet, but also increasingly popular are smart TVs which are linked to the internet, and smart speakers via which you can control household functions including ordering online with a simple voice command.
Replace factory-set default passwords with secure ones you choose yourself.
Make sure your Wi-Fi is secured and apps kept updated.
However, there are drawbacks … such as being locked out of your home by your electronic locks in the event of a power failure. More commonly, however, the risks are connected with your devices transmitting data. These exist because of users’ limited knowledge about securing them, but sometimes also poor security protocols and procedures on the part of manufacturers, of which using the same default set up password for every device shipped is a prime example.
- The data transmitted by your smart devices could potentially be unlawfully intercepted, the results ranging from having your security systems disabled or your heating thermostat set to maximum, to your child’s physical location being revealed via their tablet or your every move being spied on via your own cameras.
- The data collected by device manufacturers – which should be used for product support and R&D purposes – could be exploited for inundating you with marketing campaigns from the manufacturers and/or third parties.
- Smart product manufacturers and app developers could obtain data about your personal preferences and habits which you would rather remain private.
Making sure your connected home is safe and secure
- Ensure that your Wi-Fi is secure: see our advice page on Wireless Networks & Hotspots.
- For devices for which you need a password (as well as your Wi-Fi password) to connect, replace factory-set passwords with secure ones you create yourself. Read our advice page on passwords.
- Never use the same password for more than one connected device, nor share passwords with those you already use for other online accounts.
- Make sure that all your computers and mobile devices are fitted with updated internet security software / app, and also that access to these devices is protected with a PIN or passcode.
- Check the apps associated with your connected devices and install updates as soon as prompted. Also, regularly check manufacturers’ websites for updates, as they can be slow to push them out via the apps.
- If you can, disable remote-management access and other powerful network tools if they will not be used.
- Consider that buying well-known, reputable brands means that more care has probably been taken in securing the products – and your and your family’s security.
If you become a victim of fraud through your connected devices or for any other reason, report it as soon as possible to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2020, or at www.actionfraud.police.uk. If you are in Scotland, contact Police Scotland on 101.