10 Handy Tips For Cyber Security and Smart Homes

Security with home automation provokes an interesting debate and can be the sole purpose of why some might not invest in a smart home. Cybersecurity in smart homes is a perplex issue.

Over the past eighteen months, there has been a wide range of data breaches, but how secure is your connected home in general?

The thoughtless answer, “Probably much less secure than you might imagine.”

IoT brings a tremendous amount of connected devices into the
home. The dark flipside is that cybercriminals are now benefiting from many new
entry points into your home.

Before we give you ten handy hints for ramping up cybersecurity in the smart home, why should you care?

Why Is Cyber Security a Smart Home Issue?

What’s the difference between a standard instance of
computer hacking and an attack on your IoT devices?

Well, if someone compromises your connected home, your data could easily be leaked.

Imagine what would happen if someone hacks a single device and then obtains all your WiFi credentials.

Perhaps worse, what if a cybercriminal gains access to your smart thermostat and learns when you’ll be away so they can burgle your home? It’s unlikely, but it could happen.

Luckily, you can fight back in several ways, and none of these approaches to cybersecurity at home involve dipping into your pocket either.

So, without further ado, here are ten workable ways to tighten up at security at home.

10 Ways To Make Your Connected Home More Secure

  1. Upgrade Your Route
  2. Set Up a Guest WiFi Network
  3. Keep Passwords Robust and Security-Conscious
  4. Secure Your Network Fully
  5. Embrace Two-Factor Authentication
  6. Stay On Top Of Software Updates
  7. Don’t Manage Your Smart Devices From Public WiFi Networks
  8. Disable Unnecessary Features
  9. Use Biometric Authentication When Available
  10. Make Sure You Have a Firewall and Security Software In Place

1) Update Your Router

Back in 2018, the VPNFilter malware infected more than a half-million routers in 50 countries.

This malware rendered many routers inoperable.

 Malware can compromise your router and steal passwords and data.

Norton offers a free online tool to check your router for
VPNFilter malware

As a matter of routine, you should reset your router periodically. Once a week is more than enough. If you’re using an old router, you should consider an upgrade. Start from firm foundations, and you’ll keep the risk of a security breach to an absolute minimum.

2) Set Up a Guest WiFi Network

You shouldn’t feel bad about setting up a guest network.

While as 2020 looms, guests might naturally expect internet
access when they’re visiting, they’ve got no need for full access to all your

If you’ve got a house filled with tech-savvy teens and their
friends, you’re much better off not providing more than basic internet service
without access to everything.

You can extend this by creating separate network identities or SSIDs. Keep one of these purely for security-conscious tasks like internet banking while reserving the other network for regular browsing and device management. That way, you’ll reduce the risk of any data being stolen in a security breach.

3) Keep Passwords Robust and Security-Conscious

What’s the first thing you should do when you’ve got any IoT
device up and running?

Change the password; that’s what.

Sadly, entirely, 15% of users leave the default passwords in place, which is reckless.

You should resist the temptation to use passwords that are easy for you to remember or involve personal data like date of birth. Instead, avoid common words, include numbers and symbols, and consider using a password manager so you won’t forget your super-strong password.

4) Secure Your Network Fully

Within your router settings, be sure to amp up your security
to use the WPA2 protocol.

WEP might still be the most common protocol, but it’s much weaker and far more vulnerable to attack.

These small details could mean the difference between business as usual or a data breach. Don’t overlook the small stuff.

5) Embrace Two-Factor Authentication

We know, we know, two-factor authentication or 2FA can be a
pain. It could also protect you against a cyber attack.

After signing in with a username and password, you’ll be prompted to use a second strand of security to verify your ID. You’ll get a 6-digit code pinged to your smartphone, which, of course, a cybercriminal won’t have to hand.

Which do you prioritize more, slightly swifter log-ins or upgraded security? We thought so!

6) Stay On Top Of Software Updates

If you’re accustomed to swiping away and ignoring software
updates, you might want to rethink that in the smart home.

Smart devices often have patches released to counter any
potential security weak spots. While it would be ideal if these were
automatically applied, that’s not always the case.

Pay equal attention to security on your mobile device. Keep that smartphone updated, so you don’t dip out on any strengthening of security for the sake of sixty seconds of effort.

7) Don’t Manage Your Smart Devices From Public WiFi Networks

While it can be tempting to continually check in on smart
devices, resist the temptation to do so from an unsecured public WiFi network.

While you could always use a VPN to beef up security, it’s better to practice to sidestep accessing your IoT devices from this type of setting.

8) Disable Unnecessary Features

As a rule of thumb, if you don’t need a feature or setting
on any given smart device, disable it.

If you don’t use remote access, for example, leave it out of
the equation.

Sometimes, less is more. Enjoy a more streamlined and less bloated user experience while fractionally increasing security.

9) Use Biometric Authentication When Available

Biometric ID removes much of the possibility of a security

If you’ve got a smart lock like Ultraloq, fingerprint recognition removes any reasonable chance of foul play.

Unfortunately, this functionality doesn’t currently encompass too many devices.

10) Make Sure You Have a Firewall and Security Software In Place

Last but certainly not least, make sure you’ve got robust
antivirus and security software in place and don’t neglect a firewall, either.

Apply all of the above tips, and you can massively improve smart home cybersecurity without needing to spend a cent.

Final Word

If you bear these tips in mind, you’ll have much more chance
of keeping cybercriminals at bay and remaining safe in your connected home.

Bookmark our blog if you want to stay hooked up with the
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The post 10 Handy Tips For Cyber Security and Smart Homes appeared first on Smarthome Blog.

5 Ways to Decrease Screen Time

Think about the times you pull out a smartphone to turn on the lights. You then catch yourself scrolling through social media as our goldfish like attention span drifts us off into another task. Think about attempting to decrease screen time.





Are you conscious of the time you spend in front of a screen? Consciously or sub-consciously missing the world around you, gazing into your smartphone.

If so, you’re not alone. With the bulk of each working day often spent in front of a computer monitor, and the average American spending a further 11 hours consuming media each day, some people struggle to get much time at all away from laptops, tablets, and smartphones. And it’s the phone that’s our primary focus today…

With endless possibilities in your pocket, it’s a thoughtless reflex to grab your phone and kill a minute or two to kill. Or, killing awkward moments is what it’s best known for at times.

Once you’ve got a phone in hand, scrolling ceaselessly through social media is for many the default option.

Though, is that how you want to use free time?

Today, we’ll briefly highlight 5 actionable ways to decrease phone screen time and improve your quality of life doing so.

How To Use Your Smart Phone Less Often

  1. Start By Monitoring Usage Then Set Time Limits
  2. Remove Notifications Completely
  3. Reassess Your Use of Social Media
  4. Leave Work At Work Not On Your Phone
  5. Establish Screen-Free Zones

1) Start By Monitoring Usage Then Set Time Limits

If you have an idea, you’re spending too much time on your
cell phone, then you probably are.

Still, it pays to remove the guesswork and to start dealing
with data. Luckily, that’s easy to accomplish.

If you’re an iPhone user with iOS 12 or later, turn on Screen Time in Settings.

For Android users, the Digital Wellbeing app on Google Play Store
offers broadly similar screen time monitoring.

Once you’ve established a baseline for how much you spend with your phone daily, you can determine where, exactly, you’re spending that time. If the vast bulk of your online presence is frittered away down a rabbit hole of Facebook comments, or you’re slowly hitting the Gram without even thinking about it, try putting some app time limits in place.

2) Remove Notifications

By definition, notifications are distracting. Their very
purpose is to stop you in your tracks and divert your attention to that email,
Facebook message or comment.

Don’t let your notifications conquer you!

Try disabling notifications on your home screen. Not only will you end up with a cleaner look, but you’re also not going to miss out on anything.

Beyond this, perhaps the core benefit of removing
notifications is your improved ability to focus on the task at hand. After
being interrupted, it can take almost
25 minutes
to get back on track.

Check what you want to check manually rather than having the constant specter of notifications dragging you away from what you were doing. Use technology rather than allowing it to drive you.

3) Reassess Your Use of Social Media On The Phone

When we talk about spending too much time in front of a smartphone screen, we’re often talking about social media. This is the one form of online activity that draws people in more than any other.

We’re absolutely not
suggesting you should stop using Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or any other of
your preferred social media platforms.

What we are suggesting is that you re-examine the way you
use social media.

If your Screen Time data shows you’re squandering hours on Messenger, you could better spend in other ways, delete the app from your phone. You’ll still have access to your laptop or tablet, but you remove one huge time-suck with the press of your finger. Imagine what you can do with those 7 hours a week.

Remember, all we’re talking about here is making sensible cuts to areas of social media that eat up too much of your time. You don’t need to start shutting down accounts or making radical changes. These sensible tweaks alone should free up time without diminishing your social media experience.

4) Leave Work At Work

If at all possible, try to leave work off your phone.

Try not to check any work email or communication channels
while you’re at home. If you must engage, do so quickly and with purpose but try
not to allow yourself to be available around the clock.

We’re fully aware that this is not always practical so don’t be too hard on yourself if you need to get something done.

5) Establish Screen-Free Zones

Do you have a phone-free policy in the dining room?

How about when you eat on your own? Do you still leave your
phone in your pocket or are you checking out a quick YouTube vid as you eat

Depending on the layout of your home consider establishing areas where using the phone is discouraged or outright banned. If you’ve got teens at home, this can be a powerful way of helping them to cut back on screen time, too.

Final Word

Well, we deliberately kept this short today. After all, we
don’t want an article on reducing screen time to keep you locked in front of a display
for too long!

These handy hints are really just the start of a digital
detox. Once you start monitoring your screen time, you’ll uncover new ways to cut
consumption without reducing your enjoyment of tech.

If you’re interested in further reading on recalibrating
your use of digital devices, we’d strongly recommend Cal Newport’s Digital
. Whether or not you accept the author’s challenge to stop all
non-essential digital life for a period of one month, you’ll find some great
insight into how you could be misusing technology.

Bookmark our blog for more of the latest smart home news and come back soon.
We’ve got a very busy slate for the forthcoming holiday season. If you sign up
for our email newsletter,
you won’t miss out on a thing.

The post 5 Ways to Decrease Screen Time appeared first on Smarthome Blog.

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